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Empathy Map

Listen to Aidan describe the Empathy map and how it can be used within Human Centred Design.

An Empathy map is a tool that can help us in multiple ways – it can prompt questions that we need to ask our users (as the video shows) and it can help us make sense of interview data to use it in other places.

What is it:

A tool which helps you organise your observations and interactions with people, taking you from a blank page to a synthesis of insights that can help you to see your problem from a different perspective.

Why use this method:

It can be a little intimidating to synthesise all the data you get when interviewing and observing those who you are empathising with, so this tool helps you to organize all this data in a way to identify the insights. It is a good way to capture what stands out, but it is also a good tool to dig deeper, to understand what people think and feel and synthesis this into real insights that help you see the problem from a new perspective. How to use this method:

  • You can do this solo, or in a group. On a sheet of paper, whiteboard or flipchart draw four quadrants and label the sections “say”, “do”, “think” and “feel”. You can do this based on observations and interaction with one person, or many people.
  • Capture each of the observations or quotes that stand out to you on a post it (one post it per insight). Write a full statement or direct quote rather key words. You can colour code the positive, negative and neutral if you want to. Alternatively, you can write straight onto the paper
  • Place the post it notes onto the quadrants (or write on quadrants). The post it’s that have insights of what you observed people doing can be placed in the lower left quadrant. What you observed people saying can be placed in the upper left quadrant. Move then to what people think and feel, these could be based on feelings they shared with you, or what you infer they think and feel, based on what they said, their tone and their body language.
  • Now that you have filled out your empathy map, take a step back and consider it as a whole. Try to draw together some conclusions. Ask yourselves, what seems new? What stands out the most? What are the contradictions? What are the common themes and patterns? What is unexpected? What human needs are appearing? What are the touchpoints they are engaging with?
  • Form some takeaway statements based on what you think are valuable and important insights. This part can hurt your brain a little, take a short break if you need to. As you continue to explore your problem area you will see more patterns appear and some insights will become pivotal.


Paper, flipchart or whiteboard, pens, markers and post it notes. Empathy template.

Tips from using in the field:

  • The goal with this tool is not to capture everything, but what stands out, what helps you see the problem from a new perspective
  • If you have a group who have contributed to the map, when it comes time to draw your conclusions it may help to appoint a facilitator to encourage all to participate, to help draw out the common threads and help keep the team focused on the problem.

Use a search engine and search for “empathy map template” and see if you can find one that is useful to use.

Share the link you found in the comments below.

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