Research & understanding

Empathy map

Colton Schweitzer
October 14, 2020

An empathy map is a great tool to build... guess what… empathy with users and capture their state-of-mind. Just like personas, you can create empathy maps using research artifacts, from surveys to user interviews. 

Empathy maps are broken down into four sections: Hear, Think & Feel, See, Say & Do. These sections help identify how the user goes through a given experience.

The first quadrant is what the user “hears.” 

What do their family or friends tell them? What do they hear that could influence how they approach the problem or task? Recording what they hear will help you gain empathy for your users’ environment. 

The second quadrant is what the user “thinks and feels.” 

Ask yourself, what is the user thinking during the experience? What’s their state of mind? Regardless of what they say, do they hesitate in accomplishing a task? 

For “feels,” ask yourself, what is the user’s emotional state? Are they impatient? Confused? Worried? Excited? How were they feeling during the whole experience?

Recording what they think and feel will help you understand what’s on their mind and their emotional state regardless of what they say and do. 

The third quadrant is what the user “sees.”

What do they see throughout their experience that shapes how they act? Is there something that visually confuses them? Additionally, do they see a competitor’s product that makes them question their use of your product?

The last quadrant is what the user “says & does.” 

What the user "says" is straightforward. What did the user say out loud during the interview?

"Does" is also straightforward. What actions did the user take? How did they go about accomplishing a task? 

It will help you capture data that are critical to your users’ goal, and it can also reveal contradictions between what they say and do. 

Use an empathy map to:

Capture a user’s state of mind.

Gain insight into user needs. 

Uncover if users do something different than they say they will.

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