Select Page

This was the one-liner email I received from a user who downloaded a free PDF via the web app that I maintain. It’s a free site – no ads and no purchases. The mission is to digitally preserve and promote the Assyrian language. And, though I prefer feedback that includes a possible solution, much less a reason for what makes something not good, I’m in agreement with the user. So I made a change to the site to address this user’s concerns.

User empathy… Because I didn’t have much feedback to work with (just the one liner), I went through the user experience workflow that this user went through.

  1. navigate to
  2. click the book you want to download
  3. on the book detail page, click the “Download” button under the “Free – $0.00” text label
  4. click the “Checkout” button (the “Download” button from step 3 turns into a checkout button)
  5. Enter email, first name, and then click “Free Download”

At this point, the user is taken to a “Purchase Confirmation” page. The page does indeed feel a bit like an invoice or receipt so perhaps that’s where our friendly user started believing that he was charged for something. It is at this confirmation page users can click the PDF download link.

Further, the user then gets an email with subject and headline Purchase Receipt . Perhaps, it is this ominous text that lead our dear friend to believe he was charged for something. Some of our users are likely older and their suspicion of being swindled, especially online, is warranted.

purchase purchase purchase

So, I asked a couple friends (“interview” may be the correct Design Thinking terminology) what they thought. After the initial laugh, they thought the email subject and headline looked like a purchase receipt – heck, it even says “Purchase Receipt” and is riddled thrice with the word “purchase”. So that was the first change.

Next, I modified the confirmation page to be more explicit about this being a free download. This page appears during the “download” workflow.

How did I reply to our friendly user? I thanked the user for the feedback, said I’d make changes to the download experience to make it crystal clear that this is a free download, and that I wish could offer a refund but a refund is not possible on a free item $0.00.