Silicon Valley is a popular American comedy television series that won the heart of many with its quick wit and parody. The Hooli Phone Usability test is one of the most hilarious scenes in the show. While Gavin Belson’s ego is crushed by the responses from users, it’s important to note that product designers need to prioritize user experience before they launch their applications in the market.

An effective way to enhance user experience is by creating an empathy map. It helps you capture those essential details you’d otherwise miss out i.e., the emotional hooks and feedback. Read on to explore what is an empathy map and what is its purpose.

  1. What Is Empathy Mapping?

  2. What Does An Empathy Map Look Like?

  3. How To Use An Empathy Map

What Is Empathy Mapping?

Empathy mapping is the first step to design thinking. Empathy lies at the core of user experience (UX). Empathy maps are an effective way of developing an understanding of users i.e., customers. Having a comprehensive understanding of your customer base helps you design a successful product. Typically, product teams and professionals rely on empathy mapping to enhance design research.

In a nutshell, an empathy map is a visual tool that helps designers articulate what they know and understand about a user.  It helps you answer the ‘why’ behind user needs and wants. If you need to immerse yourself in a user environment, an empathy map is your one-stop solution. Here are several factors that highlight the purpose of an empathy map:

  • It helps you dive into customer segments

  • It helps you explore and elaborate on user personas

  • It helps you capture the behavior of potential customers

What Does An Empathy Map Look Like?

There are four quadrants (or squares) in a typical empathy map with the user or customer in the middle. Every quadrant uses a category that helps you tap into someone’s attitudes and behaviors. Let’s take this visual example of an empathy map.

Empathy mapping helps you arrange your user research into an easy-to-read visual. Let’s see how the four quadrants capture an accurate representation of the user.

  1. Say

Dedicate this section to the direct quotes of your user. Whether it’s past interviews or data, add anything relevant they say. Try to capture the exact language and words they have used. It can feature statements, including ‘I’ve never had a bad experience with xyz application’.

  1. Think

This section captures what a user is thinking throughout the experience. In other words, it’s information that the user doesn’t want to say out loud. Qualitative research is helpful in understanding what matters to a user. Try understanding why they’re reluctant to share information with you. They may use sentences such as ‘I don’t think I understand this’.

  1. Feel

This quadrant helps you understand what a user feels or what their emotional state is. You can ask questions such as ‘what excites the user?’ or ‘what worries the user?’ Organize your information by listing the possible emotions and adding a short description of what might be making someone feel a particular way.

  1. Do

Dedicate this section to anything and everything that a user does. List the actions that motivate a user to do something physically. For example, someone’s daily schedule might be relevant to the product experience.

How To Use An Empathy Map

Ideally, empathy maps should be created after initial user research in the UX design process. This creates a substantial impact on product requirements and helps you develop a meaningful value proposition.

Here’s what you should do before your empathy mapping session.

  • Have a clear understanding of why you want an empathy map and what problem you’re trying to solve

  • Research thoroughly and gather necessary information from qualitative surveys, user interviews and other studies

  • Ensure that you have plenty of time for an empathy mapping session as it typically takes up to 30-60 minutes; don’t forget to set aside time for summarization

  • Empathy mapping is an excellent team exercise as it helps you synthesize information more efficiently, so use all the help that you can get

Here’s what you should do after your empathy mapping session.

  • Start mapping the subject i.e., the persona—what will they do and what goal do they want to achieve

  • Be open-minded when it comes to listing the basic characteristics of your user persona and add all the relevant details

  • If you’re working in a team, it’s a great idea to encourage everyone to share their thoughts as it may help you reach deeper insights

  • Summarize the results at the end and remember to review the complete empathy map before you share it with everyone else

An empathy map is every successful designer’s secret weapon. If you want to figure out what people think and want, Harappa’s Decoding Others course is a great place to start. The Deduction Model will teach you how to draw insights through observation, inference and verification. Learn to identify and interpret emotions through common facial expressions with the Universal Facial Tool. Pay attention to details and acquire a strategic mindset that’s critical to design thinking.


Explore topics such as Why is Empathy Important, What is Empathy Personality, Need for Empathy at Workplace & People Management from Harappa Diaries and learn to identify and interpret emotions effectively.

Related articles

Discover more from Harappa with a selection of trending blogs on the latest topics in online learning and career transformation