Understanding Empathy Mapping: Everything You Need to Know

Designers are completely unaware of what users feel or how they think. Not even an expert can say what exactly is going on in a certain user’s mind. They can only perform research, observe, question, and surmise. Only when designers take time to understand users better, they can empathize. 

After experiencing such user challenges, designers have come up with an effective solution. So what do you think could be the best solution in this case? How do such problems get resolved? 

Empathy plays a key role here, which uses the technique of Empathy mapping. 

With this technique, you can build rich insight that helps you figure out genuine problems or issues that your client may have right now.

What Is Empathy Mapping?

  • An empathy map is a system to outline which imagines what a designer thinks about a specific user.
  • Visualizing a user's behavior in an empathy map helps UX teams or designers align on a deep understanding of end-users. 
  • The process draws out the information everyone has about the user to arrive at a common understanding.

Now, let's have a look at the four quadrants.

What Are the Four-Quadrants in Empathy Mapping?

In Design Thinking, empathy maps are divided into four quadrants. The quadrants are:

  • Say 
  • Think 
  • Feel  
  • Do

Empathy maps are used to gain a 360-degree perspective on what a user says, thinks, feels, and does.

Empathy maps offer a glance into who a user is as a whole, and what they feel is different from what they say, think, or do.

Now, let's understand the four quadrants in detail.

SAY Quadrant: 

  • The quadrant contains what the client says. 
  • It has verbatim and direct statements from research.

THINK Quadrant 

  • The quadrant emphasizes what the client thinks about their experience. 
  • It considers what clients think and why they struggle to express themselves.

DOES Quadrant 

  • It focuses on the actions that clients take. It focuses on how clients interact with the product or website.

FEEL Quadrant 

  • It emphasizes the consumer's emotional state. 
  • It gives importance to what bothers the user and what the user gets excited about.

Now, look at the examples of the empathy map where there are separately mapped out notes.

First, sketch your users in the center and write the person's name along with their description.

Now, let's talk about the quadrants.

The SAY quadrant has the statements as:

  • I was expecting something different.
  • I want something reliable.
  • What do you think? 

Likewise, each quadrant has a different example, and these examples are different from every quadrant.

Once you have finalized the notes, it's time to work on themes. 

What is Theming?

  • Themes guide an individual to focus on the key areas that need attention.
  • With theming, you can look at major user problems and notice how they might map your user journey.
  • Once you have the quadrant's data, remember to divide them into categories. Now, you need to work through one section at a time and find themes.
  • In the above photo, there are notes on the SAY quadrant, and each note focuses on the same topic but in different ways.
  • Now, categorize the notes based on a similar topic and draw a circle around the similar statements.

Result: Once you complete interviewing your clients and create themes, you will know what questions to focus on and what to not. 

Moving onto the next topics, let's see the differences between one-user and multi-user empathy maps.

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One-Users vs. Multi-User Empathy Mapping

Empathy maps can be implemented upon either one user or multiple users. 

  • One-User: 
    • An individual mapping focuses on a user interview or a user's log, such as a diary study. The designer completely observes him and tries to understand the user problem.
  • Multi-User:
    • It focuses on a user segment rather than focusing on a single person. 
  • Aggregated empathy is designed by combining numerous empathy maps from users who meet similar behaviors and group into one segment. 

With this, you have successfully come to the end of the article on Empathy Mapping.

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If you have any questions about the article Empathy Mapping, please feel free to share them with us in this article's comments section; our experts will get back to you as soon as possible. 

About the Author

Sana AfreenSana Afreen

Sana Afreen is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn and works on several latest technologies. She holds a degree in B. Tech Computer Science. She has also achieved certification in Advanced SEO. Sana likes to explore new places for their cultures, traditions, and cuisines.

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