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Empathy as a part of the perfect design team puzzle3 min read

May 23, 2019 3 min read


Empathy as a part of the perfect design team puzzle3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Empathy is a modern word which everyone is using now. But it is not just a word anymore.

Regardless of your profession, the empathy is needed. In a design aspect, to be agreeable and friendly to the user is not just needed, it is a must.

Here we are talking about this characteristic as a behavioural and personality capability which is tough to be learned, if it is fundamentally missing. That is why a strong design team needs strong personalities.   

Can we learn to be really empathic?

Initially the creative people are those who really have struggles, since they love exploring different fields and love searching for correlations. In terms of product design, those people are crucial because of their lateral thinking, not because of their creativity. The empathic connections are build upon being able to

explore and execute what the users are saying, thinking, doing and feeling.

According to NN Group, these are the four quadrants of empathy mapping.

1. I SAY.

The first step of understanding the user is to hear what he/she says in an interview or in any other usability study. The Says could be “I don’t understand what to do from here.”, or something not very specific like “I want something reliable.”.


Well, unfortunately or not, people tend to bear something in mind, which will never be vocalized.

Here comes the real deal.

The work of a good empathic designer or developer of a product is to guess what the user might be thinking throughout the experience.

What matters to him or her, or in the best case, to all of them? Try to understand what is the thing that the user might not be willing to share, like feeling unsure, insecure, or self-conscious.

3. I FEEL.

Regarding this guessing, we already feel like magicians, and we’re ready for the next step. The feel.

Being able to fit into somebody shoes, means we are able to feel what they feel. The emotional state is pivotal to the user, when interacting with a product.

We have to ask ourselves what might be worrying the user? What is exciting for the user? We consider that the user gets impatient, when the pages load too slowly, or gets confused, when sees too many contradictory steps, for example.

4. I DO.

In a good user research, we should point out what the user is doing while interacting with out product. And more importantly how does the user go about doing it.

Is he/she shopping just to compare prices? Or is he/she has to refresh the page several times – which absolutely leads to a problem.

Naturally people are complex. That is why just an ordinary user research is not solving the problem. The UX professionals are those who are able to investigate the cause of a conflict and know how to resolve it.

The three step pyramid of empathy learning

  1. Empathy to yourself
  2. Empathy to the team
  3. Empathy to the user

This is our three step pyramid of empathy learning. First, learn to be empathic to yourself.  Second, know how to share your empathy to the people around you. Only then comes the third. Knowing how to explore and find empathy and eagerness, means you know how to show empathy to clients and users.

So what makes you a perfect piece of the perfect UX design team puzzle?

Is it your hard work, or your devotion and belief in the team aims? The right answer is yes and no. We have already answered this question, if you have read carefully.

Yes, we have to be hard working every second in our working hours. And no, this is not enough. We have to carry the empathy in ourselves and to give it to the team members, only then we can be really empathic to the users we are all working for.