Empathy Map

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?

  1. Give your persona a name. A persona is an individual, not a category.

  2. Make sure they are complex and flawed, not stereotypes.

  3. Fill in each box using a combination of evidence and imagination. Use direct quotes wherever possible, especially in the what they say box.

  4. Draw a facial expression showing how your persona feels. Are they excited, depressed, or frustrated?

  5. Summarize a top 3 list for your persona: “I need….” For example, I need to be heard.

This activity works best in small groups of 1-2 people.

30 minutes.

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.


Image Source: Innovation and Advanced Education – Regional Economic Dashboard Workshop

​Additional Resources:

Empathy Map Game

Copyblogger Empathy Maps