Tool: Empathy Map (research, empathy)

Empathy maps are yet another tool to exercise empathy and understand someone on a deeper level. Paired with other tools – personas, for example – present a powerful compendium of the user/target group. Using empathy map can be a bit intimidating at first, as it’s usually a large paper canvas with few fields to fill out. However, it couldn’t be more simple!

The focal point of the empathy map is the person who needs your help – whether it is your direct customer, user, or a group your customer is targeting. Then, you follow the path of what this person hears, thinks and feels, sees, and does. Always, and I mean always, look at those through the eyes of your user, not your eyes. Now, respectively:

+ What do they hear – When talking to coworkers about the subject, what do they hear? When reading a newspaper, looking at billboards, what do they hear? On Facebook or listening to podcasts about the topic, what do they hear?
+ What do they think/feel – What is their approach towards the subject, considering who they are? What do they feel may happen?
+ What do they see – Looking around, what do they see happening about the subject? What do they see how people react, what do they see other people who are already engaged in the topic do?
+ What do they do – When making any steps towards the topic, what do they do? Where do they look for solutions, and how?

Fill out the map with as much information as possible and you’ll have a pretty good view of their pains and gains… and that’s exactly the next step! Mull over the empathy map and see where they feel negativity towards what’s already going on; see where their pains are located. Equally, look for opportunities in places where their gains are.