September 18, 2023


People aren’t using your stuff because you’re not designing it for them.

Banner of a dystopian field a concrete ramps all leading to nowhereBanner of a dystopian field a concrete ramps all leading to nowhere

The Lamentations of the Poor Corporations

I hear all too frequently why aren’t people [verb]ing our thing” where verb is… buy, use, love, whatever action verb that results in them getting paid. My first question is always, well, did you ask if they want it,” and am often met with a resounding silence.

If I’m lucky, at least, I’ll get silence. If I’m less lucky, I get shrill, arcane ramblings about profit sectors, target research, and good design practices all before their marketing teams descend upon us grind our bones for bread.

But I Deserve Your Money

The root idea for many groups that don’t bother including all users in their user testing or design processes seem to be that product good therefore buy product.” Rarely does it seem to factor in that the reason no one is using your stuff is because you’re not designing it for them.

In cases for able-bodied market segments, this is less a problem insofar as selling a product is about creating a story or solving a problem for people. You can market that. And once you hit the right ideas, people can use your product.

But They Literally Can’t Access It…

See…here’s the thing. If your Thing doesn’t allow, for example, a screen reader to access the text content, no amount of advertising is going to fix that. And addressing these issues, if you truly want this population to use your stuff, is so much more expensive once a product exists on the world.

So… What Do?

this seems so blisteringly obvious but if you want to see stuff to people… all kinds of people… you need to include them in your research process. This can take many different forms like….

  • Including people with disabilities in focus groups
  • Including accessibility in your design processes
  • Including auditing services before products hit market

All of this falls squarely under the umbrella of…

Ask People

You don’t deserve people’s attention, time, and money if you’re not including them in your process.

Wild, I know; people don’t owe you because you made a nice thing with all your might. If they can’t use it, and aren’t using your stuff, that’s your fault.

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