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The Importance of Empathy

Empathy is the first stage of the Design Thinking process and it is critical in laying a solid foundation. Watch Margi Moore explain more.

Empathy is the first stage of the Design Thinking process and helps us to understand the context of our challenge and who we are designing for.

We value empathy because

  • This stage helps us identify those that are effected by the challenge or are associated with the challenge in any way.
  • Empathy uncovers the users needs and expectations.
  • Empathy allows us to understand user motivations and aspirations.
  • Empathy describes peoples journeys and experiences.
  • Empathy allows us to understand the context the challenge exists in.

There are many ways to collect this data:

  • We can research secondary sources of information such as journals, books and newspapers (and anything else).
  • We can do observations either of processes, or people interacting with places.
  • We can use structured empathy interviews.
  • We could interview a group or run a focus group.
  • We can use e-mails, written interviews or surveys (note: While this gathers data, the emotion tends to go missing).

We’ll focus on Empathy interviews as a means of gathering data for our challenge which is coming up in the next step!


Listen to Margi Moore, our Design Factory New Zealand Director talk about the Empathy stage and the value this stage brings to our projects.

No need to post a comment this time, just make a mental note of the challenges as you see them.

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Design Thinking for Sustainable Development

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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