To create an in-demand product, you need to know those who will use them. The demographic details of the target audience are vital. But for the top-tier companies on the market, this information is not enough.
For professional UX/UI design companies, it is essential to receive insights into product improvement so you can better understand clients’ needs, pains, and decision-making patterns. The ability to empathize with another person is a crucial factor in this. If you cannot put yourself in his place, it will be impossible to understand where the customer is coming from more generally. This is where empathy maps come in handy.
Empathy Maps Explained
The empathy map was invented many years ago by Dave Gray, the founder of XPLANE and creator of the game storming method. The map template consists of 7 blocks. The empathy map is actively used in Agile approaches, design thinking, and the tools of the Stanford School of Design.
It will help you go beyond purely demographic characteristics of consumers and gain a better, more grounded understanding of his environment, behavior, problems, and joys. This will then clarify what precisely a consumer is willing to pay for.
Empathy Card Template
The empathy map template is straightforward and consists of six critical elements of the client:
- Thoughts and feelings
- What he hears
- What he sees
- What he says and does
You can depart from or alter this template without any negative consequences. It is just most important to answer each question as fully as possible and discuss them with your client’s team to understand him better and establish more contact with him.
Where Are Empathy Maps Useful?
Empathy is the ability to sync coherently with the emotional state of another person. Therefore, an empathy map is a way to structure this process through visuals and other comprehensible mechanisms.
Using empathy maps in UX/UI design agencies is not mandatory. Still, it allows less experienced designers to understand why and for whom they are developing an application or software system.
Filling in the map block by block, they systematize the target audience’s essential characteristics in a harmonious ecosystem: environment, problems, aspirations, experience, fears, and feelings.
An empathy map is useful for looking at the product through the eyes of the client.
If you are already familiar with the audience, then the empathy map details the product’s context. At the start of the project, it will show where the gaps in the data are. This data will help guide the rest of the process.
Making an Empathy Map: Tips
On the Internet, you can find many different options for the Empathy Map. Adhering to the proprietary technology gets the most out of this tool.
The empathy map collects and visualizes the target audience’s in-depth characteristics: their needs, motives, values, and problems. You can apply an empathy map method to UX/UI design every time you need to fully comprehend the client’s point of view regarding the product, service, or anything else.
Make the empathy map available for every member of the team, regularly update it, and collect team feedback. It will remain a practical and useful tool.
Empathy maps work better when based on real data. Therefore, relevant experiences after talking to employees or clients and collecting personal opinions are an excellent place to start.
As a rule, mapping empathy is a quick (30-60 minutes) exercise, not an exhaustive study. Although the card is not a complete psychological portrait, it certainly helps to understand the client better. It is one of the most productive brainstorming formats. However, to be as effective as possible, it is essential to:
- Prepare in advance. If you send materials to participants in 2-3 days, they will have time to get acquainted with the topic, think over tasks and prepare the necessary data;
- Pronounce the main task at the beginning of the discussion. Know the goals and rules of work and get everyone on the same page.
- Record everything. Select the person who will take down the ideas so as not to miss anything.
Following these simple rules, you will be able to apply the empathy map tool to the best of your abilities.
Tools for UX/UI designers include more than just Sketch and InVision. You should also be proficient at applying various methods and techniques to help you better understand users and therefore construct a better experience for them. Empathy maps are one of the most powerful tools in understanding your client’s pains and desires.
For further resources, take a look at the development section of our Resources for New Web Design and Development Projects page.