Project Description

UX Researchers at Ferguson conduct 4x more studies per year, driving huge growth in online sales for the $16B company

When Laurie Allen, UX strategist at Ferguson joined Ferguson eBusiness, she knew they were forward thinking and “understood the value of usability testing from day one – always putting the customer first and getting feedback.”

Using Validately, Laurie’s team got a lot more of that feedback. They cut down the total time it takes to plan, set up, and run a study from over two weeks to just three days (or less), often “getting back results in a couple of hours”. As a result, they conducted over 24 studies last year, compared to 6 studies a year from before using Validately.


Ferguson’s website has over 700,000 products you can buy online, but most customers are specifically looking for that one product. Findability plays a huge role in online sales and has a major impact on Ferguson’s overall eBusiness revenue.

But finding the right people to get feedback from and coordinating with them was a major time-drain.

“I would ask for a customer data list and get back maybe 80,000 names, no matter how specific I tried to be,” Laurie says. Then she would whittle it down to 10,000 names and send them an email asking if they’d like to do a study.

From there she’d coordinate sessions via email, which could take weeks, not including all of the no-shows and reschedules, just to get 10 customers for a study.

“We really needed an unbiased method of reaching out to people—people who loved us, people who hated us, people who used us, people who had never heard of us,” Laurie says. “Why weren’t they using us? Was there something we needed to know?”

Laurie knew they also needed to hear from people outside of their existing customer base. Previously they were using cold-calling to reach people who were not customers. This was time-consuming for the team, and poorly received by potential interview subjects.


“Even if someone is not an expert in the field, I can show them a diagram of a water heater, and say ‘find it on the site,’” Laurie says, “We can get a good sense that if that person can’t find it, then a customer who’s a plumber probably can’t find it either.”

Being able to find the right target audience using Validately’s panel, set up a session, and process the findings directly in Validately massively cut down the time it takes to run a study. What used to take weeks, now could be done in an afternoon.

“Obviously, having a resource like Validately, with a panel of users I can qualify and screen for tests is a huge time saving right there,” Laurie says.


  • The eBusiness division is now a tremendous success, making up over 21% of Ferguson’s overall business.

  • The year before Ferguson started to use Validately, they ran six studies. Last year, she ran 24.

more productivity with Validately

With Validately, we are often “getting results back in a couple of hours.”

Laurie Allen | Ferguson

Usability Research Tip

Organizing now saves times later

“The tagging feature in Validately has been really helpful. I can set “tags” as I watch videos, and then go into my insights report, look at my keywords, and have Validately say: ‘Here are the ones you’ve tagged the most.’ Every time I realize: ‘Wow, it’s done a lot of analysis for me, already. Using those tags to create a short highlights video reel for my stakeholders is a big time-saver, too.”

Laurie Allen, Ferguson

About Ferguson

Ferguson Enterprises is the largest U.S distributor of plumbing supplies with over $16B in sales, and also a major distributor of HVAC equipment and industrial products and services. As their eBusiness becomes responsible for more and more of their overall revenue, maintaining a customer-centric approach has become essential to their success.

About Laurie

Laurie is a UX strategist at Ferguson in the eBusiness Division. She’s been at Ferguson since 2010 and has watched the UX team at Ferguson grow and mature from a group of three to an entire UX department with dozens of people, allowing her focus on customer interviews and usability testing.