Empathy Map

Empathy map

Who does your project serve or affect? Create empathy maps about hypothetical users or customers to focus on their experience of the project.

This sport can be played solo or with a team. You need a big sheet of paper and a marker. Allow yourselves 30 minutes for each empathy map.

  1. Draw a cartoon face in the middle of the page and draw lines radiating out from the face to divide the page into six areas. Label the areas: Seeing, Saying, Doing, Thinking, Hearing, Feeling
  2. Choose a name, gender and age for this person. Do they have a job, a family or something else distinctive about their daily life? Jot these down on the edge of the map.
  3. Put yourself in that person’s shoes and think about their experience of your project. When they approach it, what are they seeing? Saying? Answer all six questions on the map in as much detail as you can imagine.
  4. After you’ve drawn your empathy map, list three things that person wants, and three obstacles to those desires.

You may have developed personas before. An empathy map is similar to personas, but you spend less time describing traits of the hypothetical users, and more time digging into how the project looks and feels from their viewpoint... and what you can extrapolate about their wants and needs.

Developing empathy maps for varied and contrasting hypothetical users can really round out your understanding of user experience. When you can, invite real live stakeholders to complete first-person empathy maps!

Developing and consulting an empathy map helps your team to consider the many forces around your users and customers that affect their experiences. Post the empathy maps where the team can see them daily. Check in from time to time: How would this feature of the project look to “Karen”? What would “Kareem” say about this change? What else will “Karl” be doing when he uses this?