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Are all designs Empathetic with users?

Empathy is the first stage in the design process and empathizes with the user is a crucial thing.

AFS India

When we design a product, it should satisfy the user’s needs and motivations. If we fail to do that, then the chances for success are less. For UX designers, it is important to empathize with users to find their needs and motivations. But the problem is that many people even designers have misconceptions about empathy and sympathy.

So before getting to detail about empathy, we should know the difference between empathy and sympathy.

Empathy is the ability to fully understand, mirror, then share another person’s expressions, needs, and motivations. Do you understand anything? If not, don’t worry, I will explain that in a simple way.

  1. What will you feel when a blind person trying to cross a traffic road?

  2. What will you feel when you tied your eyes and cross the traffic road?

When you tied your eyes and cross the traffic road, it’s a pain for you. Right? So in UX design, empathy means you are acting as your user to find their pain points. Thereby, you can find their needs.

Empathy is the feeling with users and sympathy is feeling for users.


I think now you got the difference between empathy and sympathy. So let's start to discuss the empathize stage in design thinking and how can we find user’s needs in the empathize stage?

Empathy is the first stage in design thinking and we can practice empathy in UX through several qualitative research methods like contextual inquiry, user interviews, diary studies, ethnographic studies, etc.

So what will you do if you want to find users' needs? Go and ask them what are your needs? No, It’s a wrong approach. Users can’t say the right needs of them. So we should use research methods to find their actual needs.

Below, I am going to explain two research methods briefly

Contextual inquiry: Contextual inquiry is done by observing users while they use a product and ask some questions in their environment. Observing and questioning users in their environment can reveal more insights.

User Interviews: The next one is the user interviews. Only experience can make you a good interviewer. Here I can provide some tips to improve your interview skill. We will get the user’s needs through interviews through proper questions. The below tips is not only for a UX interviewer, all humans can practice this to build empathy.

1. Be a Good Listener

Listening to the user is a good way to empathize with them. We need to listen and listen attentively. We need to train ourselves to control our natural tendency to formulate our own opinions and voice them before the other person has finished talking.

2. Ask more why’s

If you want to find the user’s actual need, then you have to find the root problem. Asking more why’s to user will reveal the root problem and hence we can find the needs.

3. Be a good observer

In order to empathize with users, we have to observe users more than that of listening. We need to observe others and have a close reading of their behaviors, subtle indications, their non-verbal expressions, body language, and environments.

4. Abandon your Ego

However, in order to empathize with users, we need to tame and put aside our egos. When you asking some questions may be user’s answers are not in the way you thought. Don’t blame them for that. Listen to them and accept their answers.

5. Avoid leading questions

When you conduct an interview, don’t ask leading questions. Leading questions will prevent apt insight.

For example:

Was it painful when you use that feature? The answer to this question is obviously yes.

If you want to get an apt reply, Replace that question like this

Do you remember when was the last time you used that feature? How were you felt at that time and why?

Avoiding leading questions will help to proper insights.

After conducting all these research methods, you will have a lot of insights from users. How will you organize these?

Empathy mapping is the way to do that.

An empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to create a shared understanding of user needs and aid in decision making.

I think you got a basic idea about empathy and empathizing with users. So I have some questions. Do you think that empathize with users have a major role in designing of products?

All of us know the tech giant Google. What was the reason behind the failure of their product Google glass? Think about it.


That’s all for now folks. Thanks for reading.

Reference: nng

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