A complete guide to Empathy maps – Meaning, needs and steps

by | Jan 25, 2023 | MVP, UI VS UX

Empathy maps are helpful to understand the unique ways that people see themselves, experience their world, and solve problems. They can help you brainstorm ideas for projects or discover how your company could be playing into your employees’ anxiety.

With the help of an empathy map, you are able to quickly understand what your audience expects from a specific topic or task. It can also provide you with insights into how they’re feeling overall on the subject. Empathy mapping is a great idea for meeting with stakeholders to help you understand your users. It can also be used during workshops or sessions to further enhance understanding between employees. For groups that design products, services, or experiences, empathy mapping is a great way to get inside the heads of users. Instead of focusing on your own perspective and needs, it helps you understand what your users need and want.

Designing a solution requires understanding the true problem, who is experiencing it, and their personal challenges. The exercise of doing user mapping helps participants consider things from the perspective of the individual involved – which can be an important key to solving any problem!

Creation of  Empathy Map

Empathy maps are really helpful when it comes to catching the attention of users, but not for requirements and concepts. They’re more useful during the design process. The mapping process generates insights that can help your team build better personas and products. For example, maps might point out a need that leads to a deeper insight into a user’s needs. (Maps are most effective when they’re based on research data, but the process of building them is similar to creating provisional personas.) The use of personas can help guide the construction of content and make the creation process more streamlined.

When given some time to think about a project, it can benefit your team when the point of view is taken from the user’s perspective before any solutions are made. It helps designers, developers, and marketers understand how users might experience your product or service.

Maps are helpful for brainstorming, sketching out design ideas, and seeing whether your hypotheses about the data you gathered are correct. The initial process can be visualized on the map, which provides enough detail and context to gather more information on the situation.

Empathy mapping is not the same thing as journey mapping.

Customers are starting to focus on the customer experience in a whole new way. This is due to organizations making changes and shifting their business models, which are bringing in better results for both businesses and consumers. Customer journey mapping is a popular process in organizations and provides users with important benefits. While empathy mapping might not replace testing for critical thinking skills, it is an effective method for understanding the user’s needs. Maps can give you a lot of information about brands, interactions, and more. They can help you see the whole experience in real-time and before your eyes. An empathy map helps you focus on a specific target persona. It’s not enough to create an entire user experience that provides a wide, in-depth view of the target population.

Steps to create an Empathy map

An empathy map is a tool used to understand and identify the thoughts, feelings, and needs of a specific group of people. To create an empathy map, you can follow these steps:

  1. Identify the group of people you want to understand (e.g. customers, users, stakeholders).
  2. Research and gather information about the group, such as demographics, behaviors, and pain points.
  3. Divide a piece of paper into four quadrants and label them as follows:
  • “Thinks and Says”
  • “Feels”
  • “Does”
  • “Pain points/ Needs”
  1. Using the information you gathered, fill in each quadrant with specific examples or quotes that represent the group’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and needs.
  2. Review the empathy map and look for patterns or insights that can inform your design, product development, or marketing strategy.
  3. Share and discuss the empathy map with others on your team to gain additional perspectives and ideas.
  4. Repeat the process as needed to gain a deeper understanding and insights about the group of people you are trying to understand.

Step 1: Identify the group of people you want to understand (e.g. customers, users, stakeholders)

Creating an empathy map is to identify the group of people you want to understand. This could be customers, users, stakeholders, or any other group that you want to gain insights about. It’s important to be specific and clear about who you are trying to understand, as this will guide your research and the information you gather in the next steps.

Step 2: Research and gather information about the group, such as demographics, behaviors, and pain points

Creating an empathy map is to research and gather information about the group of people you identified. This could include demographics, such as age, gender, income, education, and location. It could also include information about their behaviors, such as how they use your product or service, their goals, and their habits. Additionally, you should also research and gather information about the pain points or problems that this group experiences. This could include things like frustration with a current solution, difficulty completing a task, or a lack of a desired feature.

This information can be gathered through a variety of methods such as surveys, interviews, online research, and observing the group in their natural environment. It is important to gather a wide variety of information from different sources to have a comprehensive understanding of the group.

Step 3: Divide a piece of paper into four quadrants and label them as follows: “Thinks and Says” “Feels” “Does” “Pain points/ Needs

Creating an empathy map is dividing a piece of paper into four quadrants, and labeling each one with the following headings: “Thinks and Says”, “Feels”, “Does” and “Pain points/Needs”.

“Thinks and Says” quadrant is to capture the group’s thoughts, opinions, and statements. This could include things like what they say about your product or service, or what they say about the problem they are trying to solve.

“Feels” quadrant is to capture the group’s emotions and feelings. This could include things like how they feel when they use your product or service, or how they feel when they are trying to solve the problem they are facing.

“Does” quadrant is to capture the group’s actions and behaviors. This could include things like how they use your product or service, what steps they take to try and solve the problem, or what they do when they encounter a roadblock.

“Pain points/Needs” quadrant is to capture the group’s pain points and needs. This could include things like what problems they are facing, what they wish they had, or what they need to make their experience better.

This visual representation helps to organize and summarize the information you have gathered, and it will make it easier to identify patterns and insights that can inform your design, product development, or marketing strategy.

Step 4: Using the information you gathered, fill in each quadrant with specific examples 

Once you have divided your paper into four quadrants, you can use the information you gathered to fill in each quadrant with specific examples or quotes that represent the group’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and needs. This is an important step as it helps to bring the research to life and make it more relatable.

For the “Thinks and Says” quadrant, you can add quotes or specific statements that the group made about your product, service, or the problem they are trying to solve.

For the “Feels” quadrant, you can add examples or quotes that convey the emotions and feelings of the group, such as “frustrated when trying to navigate the website” or “excited about the new feature”.

For the “Does” quadrant, you can add examples or quotes that describe the actions and behaviors of the group, such as “often uses the app while on the train” or “spends an average of 20 minutes on the website”.

For the “Pain points/Needs” quadrant, you can add examples or quotes that describe the pain points and needs of the group, such as “wishes there was a way to save their progress” or “needs a way to track their progress over time”.

It is also important to note that it is not necessary to fill all the quadrants and focus on the most relevant information for your understanding of the group of people. Also, the empathy map is a living document, so you can always add or update information as you continue to research and gather more data.

Step 5: Review the empathy map and look for patterns

Once you have filled in each quadrant of the empathy map with specific examples or quotes, the next step is to review the map and look for patterns or insights that can inform your design, product development, or marketing strategy. This step is important as it helps to identify key areas that need improvement or opportunities for innovation.

When reviewing the empathy map, you can look for patterns in the information you’ve gathered, such as common themes or behaviors that are shared by the group. For example, you might notice that many users have similar pain points, or that a particular feature is highly desired by the group.

You can also look for insights that can inform your design, product development, or marketing strategy, such as understanding the specific needs of your customers, identifying potential features that would improve their experience, or identifying ways to improve communication and engagement with your target audience.

It’s also important to involve other members of your team in reviewing the empathy map to gain different perspectives and ideas. They may notice something that you missed or have a different perspective on how to address a particular pain point or opportunity.

It’s important to understand that an empathy map is a living document, and you should continue to review and update it as you gather more information and as your product or service evolves.

Step 6: Share and discuss the empathy map with others on your team to gain additional perspectives and ideas.

Another important step in creating an empathy map is to share and discuss it with others on your team to gain additional perspectives and ideas. This step is important as it allows for different perspectives to be considered and can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the group of people you are trying to understand.

By sharing the empathy map with others on your team, you can gain insight into how different team members view the group and what they believe is important. They may also have new ideas or a different perspective on how to address a particular pain point or opportunity.

Additionally, discussing the empathy map with others can also help to ensure that everyone on the team has a clear understanding of the group of people you are trying to understand, which is essential for creating a cohesive and effective design, product development, or marketing strategy.

It’s also important to note that empathy maps are not only used for internal purposes, they can be shared with the customers, users,s or stakeholders to validate the understanding and get feedback on the pain points and needs.

Step 7: Repeat the process as needed to gain a deeper understanding and insights about the group of people you are trying to understand.

Finally, is important to repeat the process of creating an empathy map as needed to gain deeper understanding and insights about the group of people you are trying to understand. As the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the group of people may change over time, it is important to revisit the empathy map and update it accordingly.

By repeating the process, you can also validate your understanding of the group and gather new information that can help to improve your design, product development, or marketing strategy. It can also help to keep your understanding of the group fresh and accurate, which can be especially important for organizations that are constantly evolving and adapting to new market conditions.

It’s also important to understand that an empathy map is not a one-time process, but an ongoing one. It is important to keep updating the empathy map as you gain new insights and as the group of people changes over time.

Additionally, you can also repeat the process for different segments of the group of people you are trying to understand. For example, you can create an empathy map for a specific subgroup of users who have different needs and behaviors than the main group.