Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Tips for creating better empathy maps

Empathy maps are conducted at the beginning of the UX design process – usually after conducting initial research but before conceptualising and design
(lively music) Empathy plays a pivotal role in UX design and product management. Without it, teams can’t truly understand their users or customers. This means that the resulting designs won’t meet the needs and wants of potential customers. Let’s go through six tips to ensure that empathy is being used in the UX design process. Firstly, it is important to use qualitative research methods. Research should be prioritised over assumptions and ego. Becoming immersed in qualitative methods, such as diary studies, interviews and cognitive mapping allows a product manager to dig into the users’ or customers’ motivations, concerns and behaviours. Next, make sure that you recruit diverse users and customers.
Explore the various opportunities and test your assumptions with a diverse set of end users for the most valid and reliable results. Following this, let the product development team interact with and explore user research sessions. Making design participatory increases the application of empathy while also making research findings more easily understood. Seeing is believing and experiencing user commentary and feedback first hand is more powerful for development teams. When it comes to presenting research findings to stakeholders, make sure that you include videos of user feedback or experience. The users can perform tasks to supplement recommendations and findings. Video clips build general empathy towards an audience while also making the findings seem more compelling. Next up, you should make an empathy map.
This tool can help distil the knowledge about a user into a diagram. These diagrams capture users’ hopes, emotions and fears. The map may also help to identify additional research you might conduct to fill in existing research gaps. Team members must always remember that they are not the actual users. Users may or may not think in the same way the team does. Therefore, it is important to invest in a diverse team with members of varying demographics and backgrounds. This will help create products that meet the needs of the whole target audience. Armed with these tips, you can make sure that products are developed with empathy for end users.
(lively music)

Watch the video to learn where and how empathy is brought into the design process.

Empathy maps are conducted at the beginning of the UX design process – usually after conducting initial research but before conceptualising and designing the end product or service. But you can use empathy maps throughout the design process, and revise them as new data is presented. If information in the map is sparse, or the drafting process leads to more questions than answers, more customer research is required.

When you use empathy mapping in the early stages of the UX process, teams can enter the user’s world and approach the issue from their point of view before creating a solution (a new service, app, web-page design, etc).

This simplified map provides a useful example of empathy is applied in the UX design process.[1]

Empathy map of purchasing a new TV: The customer wants a new TV. Customer feels excited, unsure, confused. The customer checks the website, compares products and reads reviews (Click to enlarge this image)


1. Brown JL. Empathy mapping: a guide to getting inside a user’s head [Internet]. 2018 Jun 27. Available from

This article is from the free online

UX Design Fundamentals: Delivering value to users

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now