What is an Empathy Map?

Developed by Dave Gray, Empathy Mapping is a visualizing tool designed to gain a deeper understanding of a target group. This tool is compromised by a series of steps that all together help a team identify valuable insights into their customers such as needs, wants, motivations, feelings, thoughts and desires.

Why use an Empathy Map?

Empathy Mapping may be used in different business scenarios, such as:

  • To assess and compare past and current user behavior
  • To gain more detailed insights on your customers before a particular business decision is taken.
  • To elaborate on customer’s personas
  • To align particular products or services to the needs of your target consumers.
  • To understand why you might be losing some users over competitors.

Step 1: Set your scope and establish your goals

The first step to Empathy Mapping is to decide on your subject, your scope and your goals.

  • Think about who you want to understand. This is the customer you are trying to emphasize with – it could be an individual or a group of customers that share some common characteristics.
  • Consider what you want to achieve. Are you trying to find an answer to a particular business question or are you trying to gain a deeper understanding of your target group?

Step 2: Collect Data

The next step is to start collecting your data. You might pursue data through a single or a combination of sources, such as:

  • Qualitative Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Observation

Step 3: Fill the Map

Start filling out each section of the empathy map:

  • What do they SEE? 
    • What do they see in their environment?
    • What are they watching?
    • What do they see in the market?
    • What do they see others doing in their daily experience?
    • What are they exposed to in their everyday life?
  • What do they DO and SAY?
    • How do they behave?
    • What are they saying?
    • What can we imaging them doing?
  • What do they HEAR?
    • What are they hearing from others, including colleagues, friends, and acquaintances?
    • What are their personal connections (e.g. family, friends, coworkers)?
    • What do they hear from media, social media influencers, bloggers, etc?
  • What do they THINK and FEEL?
    • PAINS: What are their fears, frustrations and anxieties?
    • GAINS: What are their needs, hopes and aspirations?
    • What else are they thinking about?

Step 4: Reflect, Discuss and Summarize

Now review what you have put together. Think about the process that took you to the end. Have you changed your perspective on how you view your subjects? Has it produced any new insights on your target group? Discuss together with your team. Now write down everything remarkable and collaboratively organize your thoughts.

What are the benefits of Empathy Mapping?

  • Fast and inexpensive tool
  • Easily customizable according to available information and goals.
  • Understand target customers better.
  • Identify key insights and adjust business strategy accordingly.
  • Intimate way of knowing your audience
  • Practice empathy thinking with your team to enhance teamwork and collaborative thinking.