As we continue to work on our solution (more on that soon, I promise) one of our biggest concerns is making sure what we build is a human centric solution. We use a couple different techniques to keep us on track: personas, interviews, observations, and now, empathy maps.
What is an empathy map, and why do we use it?
An empathy map allows you to synthesize all the different things you have observed, heard, and read about your customers. Once you begin to brainstorm the customer’s daily experience, new insights about their current obstacles and needs will emerge. Empathy maps help you stay grounded and in the minds of your users.
How do you use it?
Choose a customer - Think of the person that you are designing for and make sure everyone in the room is on the same page. It is ok to do multiple empathy maps if you are designing for multiple customers.You don’t want someone designing for Katniss Everdeen when another person is designing for Effie Trinket.
Ready the supplies - Have one large poster board with the image above for the group to work off of as well as individual print outs of the image for each participant of the brainstorm. Also, make sure you have lots of post-it notes.
Brainstorm individually - Have each member of
the team spend 5 minutes individually filling out the empathy map for a given customer, except for the Pain and Gain sections. Remember the Say and Do, Hear, and See sections can be observed directly but the Think and Feel section will need to be inferred based on observations.
Share and brainstorm as a team - go through each quadrant allowing each participant to share their ideas. Build off one another to make sure you have the whole picture. In our experience, this is where the good stuff comes out, because we are working off of each other, especially if we’ve had time to think individually first.
Synthesize the Pains and Gains - Now with all the observations in one place, the Pains and Gains of your customer will rise to the surface. These pains and gains will guide what you build and ensure that you design with your customer in mind.
This was an incredibly fruitful endeavor. We focused on both those living with heart failure and their caregivers to try and discern what solutions would address the pains and produce the gains of both customers. If you want to try it for your own project find an empathy map here, and let us know how it goes!