HT Design Studio
Human Technology. We improve the way people interact with websites, apps, and digital products.


We write about how you can ensure your customers have the best user experience possible using your website or digital product.

Dear Customer: What You Tell Users When You Don’t Conduct User Research or Usability Studies

Creating a website or digital product without first conducting user research sends quite a few messages to your customers—but probably not the messages you intended. Here is what you are inadvertently telling your customer/website visitor when you fail to conduct user research:

  1.   We’re not interested in helping you do what you want to do.
  2.   We can’t be trusted.
  3.   We don’t care if we make you feel stupid.


1. What you’re telling customers: We’re not interested in helping you do what you want to do.

We’re only interested in our bottom line. We’ve spent considerable time defining our goals but we haven’t spent any resources in considering yours. As a result, we’ve structured our website in such a way to help us achieve our business objectives and have blatantly disregarded what tasks you need to perform on the website.

How you can change the conversation:
By conducting user research before a website design or redesign, you can define what users need and want to accomplish on the website. You’re likely to uncover needs you hadn’t considered (for example, users require robust technical specifications in order to make a purchasing decision). You may also find that user needs and preferences don’t align with your website goals. Users may be reluctant to create an account in order to make a purchase. If a business goal is to increase signups, you may need to consider providing a guest checkout option.

2. What you’re telling customers: We can’t be trusted.

Our website is haphazard and confusing, which reflects the internal disarray of our company.

How you can change the conversation:
Your website is a reflection on your company. By usability testing with users who align with your target audience, you can uncover problems that make your website confusing (for example, unclear or inconsistent labeling or instructions), frustrating (for example, not giving the user a way to “cancel”), or misleading (for example, a download the user didn’t want or expect). By the way, an expert heuristic evaluation and extensive quality assurance (QA) testing are great ways to discover the low-hanging fruits of technical and/or usability problems. But ongoing usability testing with representative users is the only way to ensure your site is providing the best user experience.


3. What you’re telling customers: We don’t care if we make you feel stupid.

We expect you to speak our language, understand our made-up terminology, and share our worldview.

How you can change the conversation:
By thoroughly understanding customers through user research and testing the site with usability testing, you can ensure users feel confident that they can find what they need to find and accomplish the things they set out to accomplish. The website uses the user’s vocabulary, with carefully-selected navigation items and informative copy—not marketing-speak or terminology that does not make sense to them. Because you’ve conducted usability tests, you already know how to steer users in the right direction and the website is thoughtfully designed to offer assistance in the event something does go wrong.

By not conducting user research or usability studies, you’re essentially telling your customer: “we don’t care if you leave and we’re not interested in earning your business.” User research, usability studies, and a dedication to great user experiences is the only way to ensure customers use your web/mobile app or website and have the incentive to use it again.