UX Power Up: Design technique- Empathy Mapping


Hi Frank Spillers here founder of Experience Dynamics and it’s time for this week’s UX Power Up! So, today’s topic is Empathy Mapping…

What is Empathy Mapping?

Empathy mapping is one of the design research techniques that you can do very easily and its purpose is to help you gain that ‘walk in the user’s shoes’, to gain that perspective from their eyes and it achieves this by having you map out in sensory language- so what the user is thinking, feeling, hearing, saying and things they are doing. It’s about bringing that experience in concrete terms with their statements or their thoughts and feelings- remembering their pain points, things that motivate them as well- their gains are good to have on that empathy map.

“Fake” vs “Real” Empathy

One thing I would like to point out about Empathy Mapping, is it’s fine to use this as a brainstorming technique, it’s even better and richer to use it based on observations and interviews you have done with users. This is the difference between fake empathy and real empathy! And for me it’s hard to fake empathy- to use the word empathy implies that you are doing the empathy- and you can’t do the empathy without talking to your users, observing them, really trying to understand the problems they are trying to solve: their pain points, their goals, their tasks- the things that motivate them- really getting that emotional download from users you can bring into your empathy map and reflect that through.


The empathy maps are a way for you to think about the user. They may be something you create with a persona, before you’ve done your wireframes, so this is kind of an early-on brainstorming ideating, right before you go into the concepts– helps you actually nail down more of those pieces of empathy. And empathy is definitely one of these design tools that’s considered the de facto…I used to think empathy, that’s just some touchy feely thing…when now I realize and the approach of Design Thinking will also reinforce that empathy is actually a tool you can use, you can actually take what your users are thinking and feeling and translate that into your design or your prototypes. Have fun with empathy maps and we’ll see you on a future UX Power Up!

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