An illustration of a group of people listening to someone else sharing a story. They are all highly interested. they have big eyes and ears.
Source Midjourney prompt by the author

If we design for it

Most people don’t buy products, they solve needs. Still, when we go online we can easily think its the other way around: that people don’t have needs, they only want products. Why?

Helge Tennø
2 min readSep 24, 2023


Most people don’t buy a product just to buy a product. What they care about is how to achieve or overcome something.

When people go online this is what they bring with them: information about themselves, the situation they are in and their needs.

Which is a big opportunity because it means they aren’t really there to ask questions about the product, but to match a product to who they are, the situation they are in and their need.

In order to answer these questions they bring a tresure trove of information that can be captured … if we design for it.

They will ask context rich questions like: I’m going to Paraguay on a 14 day hiking trip both in the low and high up regions. Will the sleeping bag be comfortable at high and low temperatures? How does it respond to humidity? I’m above average height, will I still be able to crawl deeply into it? And I’m a slight bit claustrophobic because of a childhood traumatic incident involving my sister, so can I open the zipper from the inside?

These aren’t questions about the product.

They are stories people tell about themselves that help us learn why we exist and how we can do better.

Capturing this information at scale can help us design better products, experiences, marketing. It can help us solve our customers’ needs in better ways. Learn new things about our customers nobody else is listening to.

Unfortunately, most online presence is not a conversation, not an exploration, nobody is listening to their customers. Nobody is using the interactivity to learn.

We collect data about channel efficiencies (conversion and completion) and talk about ourselves all the time (our products). We are training our customers that the Internet is not about them, its all about us. They are on their own and we are not interested.

But this is a choice. We have chosen to design the Internet in this way. Which means .. we can change it .. if we can see it, and if we design for it.