What is an empathy map
An Empathy Map is a collaborative tool that visualizes key knowledge about a particular type of customers, usually gained at the design research phase.
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It provides an overview of a selected customer segment experience with your product or service, and employs a grid of 4 quadrants that provide a glance into the customers' attitudes and behaviours, namely — what they Think/Feel, Hear, Say/Do, and See in relation to your product -, with the specific product persona in the middle. Summing up the collected data you ll be able to make conclusions on the key Pains your target customers have and the Gains that reflect their needs.
When to use an empathy map
Its common knowledge that users are more likely to buy the products that meet their actual pain points and needs rather than those targeting their wants. If done properly, an Empathy Map works as a great Lean User Persona.
Drafting an Empathy Map is a great exercise to apply every time you need to understand the people you design your product for. Filling it in enables insights into your customers' critical needs, for you to deliver "must-have" rather than "nice to have" products, be profitable and win your market share.
How to use an empathy map
An Empathy Map can provide insights for various departments of your business, be it design team or marketing. You can draw it yourself or fill in a ready template online - if you work in a remote team and need a framework for ideas generation and planning.
1. Bring research data
Ideally, an Empathy Map should be based on the real data collected at user interviews or surveys during research stage. Invest in as much upfront user research, as possible. However, if you lack resourced for that, the team's anecdotal knowledge of your customer base and the stakeholder's input can be also used.
2. Arrange a workshop
Bring the key stakeholders and team involved in creating something to touch your audience (marketing, sales, design team, etc) together, and prepare your supplies: a physical board and post-it notes or - even better - a sharable online template. Make sure to have your Persona profiles or related insights at hand.
3. Create a map per each customer persona
Start with introducing the goals of the workshop and listing the Customer Personas your will be drafting an Empathy Map for. Let the participants share their thoughts related to the actual pains and needs of the selected Personas and any insights they find valuable for the mapping process.
Then, work together as a group to capture answers to the Empathy Map questions, filling in a Map per each Persona. While easy to nail down what the users Say/Do, or See and Hear in the market, however, capturing what they Think and Feel needs careful observations and thorough analysis of how they reacted to certain activities or suggestions throughout the conversation.
What does he/she Think and Feel?
Capture all the findings related to what really counts for this Persona, their preoccupations, worries or aspirations (e.g. what their friends say about the product, if there are cheaper alternatives to your product, etc)
What does he/she Hear?
Document the key information they hear from their friends, or boss or influencers. Use user interview data and search for conversations online (SM, Quora, blogs and forums)
What does he/she See?
Study the market and see what alternatives to your product or service it offers. Look at the environment and the Persona's community behavior.
What does he/she Say and Do?
Share your observations of the customer attitude in public or demonstrated behavior during the interview, etc. (e.g. if they keep looking at the clock during the interview, or check the calendar to see if there is time for a longer discussion, etc).
Look at any obstacles the users face that are worth considering in the course of their journey.
Get a deep understanding of what the users hope to achieve while moving through the journey with your product. What are the success indicators for them?
4. Share your empathy map
Once you have competed the mapping exercise, make sure to share the workshop results with all the stakeholders/teams within your company that may benefit from it (anyone involved in content generation, design activities or user experience design).
5. Learn more and iterate
Learning about your customers is a never-ending process, so your Empathy Maps should never stop evolving. Revise the Maps on a regular basis (e.g. during the yearly planning sessions) and iterate on them based on new customer insights.