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Empathy Map

An Empathy Map (or Persona Empathy Map) is a graphic illustration that depicts what a Persona is experiencing, thinking, and feeling in a particular scenario. This scenario is often an edge case in order to exaggerate potential pain points that the product team would not typically consider.

Empathy Maps consist of an image of the persona in the center with blocks of the background around them dedicated to what they think, feel, and do in that scenario. It can be used in conjunction with a Journey Map to flesh out a persona’s behavior and strengthen the designers’ emotional connection to the persona.

 

Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Preparation:  1 Hour
  • Time Needed to Create Empathy Map: 1 Hour
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • Camera

Carry Out This Method

Empty conference room with whiteboards
  1. Before you can create an Empathy Map, you will need to have User Scenarios and Personas for this product. Because this method focuses on fringe cases, be sure you have a Primary Persona to focus on before proceeding. Focusing on fringe cases for secondary personas would result in too big a scope increase for your product.
  2. Invite product team members and stakeholders to a meeting. Break participants into groups of 3 or 4 people each.
  3. Have each group draw a stick figure of their persona on the board, and five sections around the stick figure labelled “See,” “Hear,” “Think,” “Feel,” and “Do.”
  4. Provide each group with one user scenario.
  5. Give your groups 30 minutes to brainstorm the persona’s sensory input, thoughts, feelings and actions over the course of the scenario and record them in the appropriate spaces on the whiteboard.
  6. As they work, walk around the room visiting each group. Ask what insights they’ve gained about the primary persona that will inform design.
  7. Ask each group to present their findings.
  8. Photograph the Empathy Maps for reference.

Try These Tips

  • Don’t make the scenarios so extreme that they are unrealistic.
  • If you will be writing User Scenarios in the same session, make certain the Empathy Maps whiteboards remain visible and can be easily referenced.

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