Empathy mapping: A starting point for better user experiences


When we use empathy to put ourselves in someone else's shoes for a moment, we get a chance to better understand and appreciate where they're coming from and the problems, or pain points, they may be facing.

Empathy and emotional intelligence are closely related. When we take the time to tune in to our EQ, we're a step closer to improving the overall user experience design. Empathy maps are no longer just the domain of savvy marketers. UX designers are benefiting a lot from this simple tool.


What's an empathy map?

An empathy map is a four-quadrant box which helps you develop a deeper understanding of the people you are serving, and helps further define products and services that fulfil their needs.

When you want to understand your customer’s perspective, your first port of call should be an empathy map. It’s a tool you will refer back to time and time again- I hope!

Let's get into it.


Empathy Mapping: What does your customer say, think, do and feel?

Let's imagine a business selling organic food boxes. Those ones where they deliver the raw ingredients, along with a recipe, and you prepare and cook the meals yourself.

And let's take me as an example of their target audience. Age 33, first time Mum of a 6-month old boy. She used to take pride in cooking and preparing meals. But somewhere in the last two years, she's lost that love. Now, with a baby and a husband to cook for and a business to run, she's short on time, let alone inspiration. And trawling the internet for recipe ideas and picture-perfect Instagram images is not doing her any favours. She needs help.

The next step is to gather the key insights the empathy map has revealed, and how to better serve your user's through more thoughtful design, content, copy and service.

There you have it. An empathy map allows us to sum up our learnings succinctly by providing four major quadrants to focus our attention. It provides an overview of a person's experience and helps construct a fuller picture of their wants, needs and motivations. Give it a go, it's actually kinda fun.

Over to you... 

What's your favourite tool for gaining insight into your customers, audience or users?

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thanks for being here.