Empathy Map (Research Synthesizing Tool)

When to use it

Empathy maps are most useful at the beginning of the design process. It is used after the initial design research to shed light on what problems to solve for maximum impact.

The Empathy Map is one of the many tools we use to distill and synthesize the design research. It is a means to generate insights from the information gathered through interviews or observations on site, or informal discussions.

How to use it

An Empathy Map consists of four quadrants. The four quadrants reflect four key traits, which the user communicated during the observation/research. The four quadrants refer to what the user: Said, Did, Thought, and Felt. It’s fairly easy to determine what the user said and did. However, determining what they thought and felt should be based on careful observations and analysis so as to help uncover unsaid beliefs and motivations of the user.

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The left quadrants are for noting down actual observations and quotes while the right quadrants are for feelings and thoughts that are inferred from the interviews.

Insights are

  • synthesised from contradictions, patterns and surprises observed in the quadrants
  • non-obvious and previously unrecognized
  • a discovery into the motivations that drive action
  • a catalyst to defining the problem that needs to be solved

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