You are in context to another

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to define your audience, how to name them. We all know that if you design for everyone, you end up designing for no one. But demarcating a group of people can be a real struggle, especially since people exhibit different behaviors in different situations — one of the axioms of user experience.

As I’ve been trying to find a single all-encompassing word to describe our target market, something vivid yet versatile, obvious yet open, I keep repeating these statements to myself:

You are a pedestrian, relative to a driver.

You are a civilian, relative to a soldier.

You are a layman, relative to an expert.

You are an amateur, relative to a professional.

You are a foreigner, relative to a native.

You are a spectator, relative to a participant.

You are an editor, relative to a writer.

You are a neighbor, relative to a neighbor.

You are a victim, relative to a perpetrator.

You are a donor, relative to a recipient.

You are an employee, relative to an employer.

You are a success, relative to a failure.

You are a successor, relative to a predecessor.

You are a realist, relative to an idealist.

You are a moderate, relative to a radical.

You are a competitor, relative to a partner.

You are a regular, relative to an occasional.

You are a constant, relative to a variable.

You are an introvert, relative to an extrovert.

You are a buyer, relative to a seller.

You are a celebrity, relative to an unknown.

You are a listener, relative to a talker.

You are an independent, relative to a conformist.

My point? To truly understand who someone is, you also have to study who they’re not. To design for your target, you must consider their antithesis.

Who’s the antithetical user of your site? Who’s the anthesis of you?

Related Posts:


  1. says

    I am an iconoclast relative to an icon—a scalable vector and not a raster-image rendered, despite their pixelated wonderment.

    Sometimes, the technology just isn’t there yet for people like me. In which case, can you ignore them?

  2. grinblo says

    This post reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Fernand Braudel’s “The History of Civilizations.” Since I don’t have the book with me, it goes something like this: “To truly understand a culture or a civilization, we can’t just look at the subtle shifts in what it accepts or practices. We must look first at what it rejects. Only by knowing what a culture holds as worthy of rejection can we truly understand it.” (I’m pretty sure I misquoted him terribly but the point remains and has remained with me for years.)


  1. […] An oldie but goodie by Whitney Hess: You Are In Context to Another […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *