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User Sense

Enhance UX with Empathy Mapping: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

In this article we will tell you more about what an empathy map is, why you want to use it and how to create one. We provide you with an explanation and a free empathy map template, so you can create one of your own within minutes. 

What is an empathy map?

The empathy map was developed by Dave Gray, who himself needed a document in which all user needs were summarized. It soon became apparent that he was not alone, as shortly after sharing the empathy map with the world it was part of the Stanford D School curriculum and discussed in the Harvard Business Review.

A few years later, the empathy map is still as popuar as it was after the shortly after the launch. It is expected to play a crucial role in 2020 - but why has it become so popular in the first place?

Advantages of creating an empathy map 

  • Better understanding of user profile and user needs. By far the biggest advantage of creating an empathy map is that it forces you to step in the shoes of the user and relate his needs. By doing so, you are likely to develop a product that better suits the users' needs. 
  • Visual representation of UX research. Summarize valuable insights from surveys, in-depth interviews and usability testing in the empathy map and create a central document in which the user is central.
  • Easy to share with external stakeholders. Because conducting UX research entails so many insights, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate the needs of the user with external stakeholders. An empathy map forces you to create a simple overview that is easy to understand for other stakeholders.

Create an Empathy Map in Five Steps


Now that you know what an empathy map is and what its benefits are, let's take a look at how to create one yourself in five simple steps. 

1 - Who is the user and what do we want him to do?

The first step is to have an idea of ​​who the user is and what you want the user to do with your product.To describe who the user is, you can use answer the following questions:

  • Who is the person we are trying to understand?
  • What does his life look like?
  • What kind of work does he do?
  • What kind of problems does he face?

Then you can look at what you want the user to do. You want to make sure that the goal is measurable. You can use the following questions:

  • What do you want users to do (differently) so that they achieve the goal?
  • What decisions do they have to make?
  • What will help users succeed and how can we help them?

2 - See

In this step you enter the world of users and see their field through their eyes. Questions you can ask are:

  • What do they see happening in the market?
  • What changes are comparable companies going through?
  • Are there major changes coming?
  • What channels do they follow to keep up to date with changes?

3 - Say and do

In this step, we look at what users say and do. Keep in mind that what people say they do and what they actually do is often very different. That is why it is good to combine 'say' and 'do' in a field, so that any differences become immediately clear.

To find out what users are saying, ask the following questions:

  • What are the reactions of users?
  • What do they say to do with our products?
  • What do they say about us or do we think they say about us?

Then, to find out what users are doing, you can ask the following questions:

  • What do users actually do?
  • How do they behave and why do they do that?
  • Do they use competitor products? Why do they do that?

4 - Hearing

In this step, you look at how users are influenced by what other people say. Questions to answer are:

  • What do they hear from friends and family?
  • What do they hear from colleagues?
  • What do they hear from their professional network?
  • What kind of reviews do they read?

5 - Thinking and feeling

In the last step, you want to zoom in on the pain of the user, highlighting the problem they are experiencing. Then you want to get an answer how the most ideal scenario would look like.

  • To name their pain points, you can answer the following questions:
  • Are they frustrated or afraid that something will happen?
  • What are their main obstacles?

Finally, you can use the following questions to clarify the desired scenario:

  • What do they hope will happen?
  • What is the most ideal scenario?
  • What do they need to achieve that?

Download our template

Download our empathy map template for free. 

Download empathy map template