The empathy map provides a way to visualize a stakeholder perspective in
order to better empathize with them, by – in their words – capturing what they
think and feel, say and do, hear and see, as well as their hopes and fears.
When to use it?
Look: The empathy map helps teams in the
look phase of understanding other perspectives. It works best after performing
ethnographic research or interviewing for empathy as a way to visually represent
the results of interviews.
How to do it?
Give your persona a name. A persona is an individual, not a category.
Make sure they are complex and flawed, not stereotypes.
Fill in each box using a combination of evidence and imagination. Use direct
quotes wherever possible, especially in the what they say box.
Draw a facial expression showing how your persona feels. Are they excited,
depressed, or frustrated?
Summarize a top 3 list for your persona: “I need….” For example, I need to
This activity works best in small
groups of 1-2 people.
Pros and Cons
- Provides a holistic picture of a particular perspective.
- Gives a voice to perspectives that may not be able to participate in ideation workshops.
- If the participants have not performed ethnographic research first, the personas may simply reinforce assumptions and stereotypes.
- Some groups struggle with the imagination gap between what people say in interviews and what their actual actions, aspirations and fears are.
- Once you have created the empathy maps, be sure to make use of them. One way to do this is to create a gallery of your stakeholders in your design studio.
- Consider having participants perform Dotmocracy to vote on statements in the empathy map gallery that are authentic and revealing.