March 14



An empathy map is a great tool that allows team members to understand their users better; it is like a map showing team members the direction to go, they are not necessarily perfect, but they should be adopted in all circumstances.

Empathy maps help in improving user experience, they also help teams to empathize with their users. As a project gets going, teams will always have to revert to the empathy map to understand the product better on certain features that will be beneficial to their users.

It allows you not just to put your leg in people’s shoes, but also to walk in that shoe and understand them. Using empathy in design thinking gives you an insight into what the user needs, it also opens the door to a better user experience.


To understand empathy maps properly, it is better to define what empathy is. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s situation from their point of view. Unlike sympathy where you understand a person’s feelings and keep your distance from them, Empathy is understanding your user’s feelings and proffering solutions for them. To get a person’s experience fully using empathy, it is not just to wear their shoes alone; you have to put on their entire outfit.


Empathy maps were created by Dave Gray as a tool used in gaining insight on your users, unlike user personas, an empathy map is a collaborative tool used in gaining more insight on your users. They are guided by six different factors;

Think and feel: This has to do with what occupies the users thought and what matters to them.
Say and do: How does the user behave? Get to understand the attitude of the user.
Hear: Environment influences our decision, what the user hears from influencers, family, and friends. This factor influences the user.
See: What a user sees the competitors and friends do affect them as we are moved by our environment.
Pain: The obstacles the user faces also matters,
Gain: What does your user hope to achieve using the product? How the user also interprets the success of the product is important.

In creating Empathy maps, endeavor to ask questions. Empathy maps should not be made out of speculations, do not think for your users. Ask questions on how they feel about your product and how they see the competitors’ products. Also, ask them the difficulty they experience while using the product.


As mentioned above, empathy maps are an important road map in understanding users. Making assumptions when interacting with a user is not a good way of empathizing (it is also bad practice), there is a need for a chain in communication between the team and the user, and also feedback is necessary for making improvements.

When product teams empathize, they get a broader perspective of what the product entails. Empathizing helps in achieving the following:

It helps you visualize user behavior: Take cognizance of what the user is trying to achieve, then there is a guarantee that you will be able to prioritize the user needs and achieve great results.

It gives a better understanding of the users’ needs: When empathizing is used in an iterative process, listen properly to the user so you can understand adequately the problem you’re trying to solve.

Empathizing helps in prioritizing the users’ needs: Users generally have a lot of needs that they want to be solved, empathizing helps you understand which one should come first and which should follow.

It also helps in making better product design-oriented decisions: Empathizing ensures that you understand the amount of labor and expertise required to fulfill a task. As a Product Manager, empathizing opens your mind to the required professionals needed in carrying out a task.

It gives a deeper understanding of users: If you understand your users, then you will also understand how they want a product to service their needs, since empathy maps give an insight of the user, that understanding will help in ensuring that your decision benefits the needs of that user.

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