Empathy Mapping: How Does it Work for UX Design? | by Jessica Bennett — Tech Enthusiast and Marketer | Mar, 2023

A lot of UX designers choose empathy mapping as an important part of their design-thinking process to provide users with the best experiences. Whether offering a service or designing some products, creating an empathy map helps them meet the user’s needs. Empathy Mapping is one of those methods to gain a better understanding of user goals and needs. The term ‘Empathy’ refers to the certain ability to comprehend a person’s feelings that you can relate to the phrase, ‘walking a mile in others’ shoes.’ For a commercially successful product, it is essential to have a good understanding of your user expectations. Designers may have different techniques to develop such an understanding. But when you are talking about a key method with many advantages, it is empathy mapping.

So, what is an empathy map? It is a template that represents the behavior and feelings of a user persona to add the connection of empathy between the designer and the user. Creating an empathy map adds a principal user and helps understand user experience, motivations, and concerns. To specify, a UX empathy map is a collaborative tool that teams use for a deeper insight into the users.

Empathy maps can help understand various users from stakeholders, teams, or individual users. Teams like sales, design, customer service, or product development can easily take care of empathy mapping. The simple method is to get into the customer’s head when they choose your service or product. Other than understanding the user’s perspective, an empathy map considers a number of factors derived from the customers’ experience. From the problems they face, while using the products to the issues they handle, a product empathy map encompasses all.

The process of creating an empathy map is easy by using an online whiteboard. Take a premade template or create one including all the required details. Generally, all the traditional empathy maps have regular quadrants, while the refined ones have some specifications.

So, here is how to create an empathy map following these five steps.

Know Your Objectives

Are you sure about the goals you have in your mind for the projects? Do you know what your goals are? It is important to have a design goal before collecting the information.

Take Time to Research

The concept of an empathy map is based on thorough research. Interviewing customers and planning surveys will work in collecting research findings.

Make Sure that You have Data for Every user group

All you need is to gather detailed profiles for each user group based on the product or service you are working with. Put together all the information you have gathered for the UX research for each user profile.

Your research Should cover each quadrant

The UX research must have the four quadrants of an empathy map: Say, Think, Do, and Feel.

Work on the insights

As soon as your empathy map is ready, it’s time to look through the patterns and insights. Share this with the stakeholders for a final call on design decisions.

A Customer Empathy Map is a collaborative tool that helps collect user information to understand the target audience better. The tool works in visualizing customer requirements, presenting customer data through a simple chart, and depicting the actual need of a customer.

Four quadrants that build an empathy map include Say, Do, Think, and Feel. Following these questions will help you analyze the user perspective. These quadrants must be fulfilled irrespective of their chronological order.

Image credit: Nielsen Norman Group


When working with this quadrant, determine what a customer says about your service or products. Mention the queries or questions you receive from the customers through interview sessions. If you are looking forward to a deeper understanding, know what your customer says.

As you analyze what your customers say about the product, ask these basic questions to yourself first.

-What are the honest customer reviews about your products?

-Is your product creating a buzz among the customers?

-What is the feedback customers share about your products or services?


The Think quadrant gives you access to the customer’s thought process. Knowing what your customer thinks while availing of your service or product is essential. Are the users getting distracted by their thoughts? What does a customer think is the most important thing?

A few questions you may ask when working with this portion include,

-What does a customer think when they perform their allotted tasks?

-How will they narrate their overall experience?

-Will your customers voice the problems they are facing?


Feel will represent the user’s emotional self. Is there any specific idea that leaves the user worried? How does the user get excited? Also, an overall experience of the user while using the product or service.

A few prompts you can ask are-

-How do they feel about the accomplished tasks?

-What are the issues they are feeling when using your products?

-What are the features that make your customers feel like using your products or services?


How does the user react after using or using your products or services? The ‘Do’ quadrant measures the user’s action. Do not worry if the customers share different emotions, as various feelings will exist. When you map users’ tasks, it will help you understand the actions taken by the user and the areas where they are struggling.

As soon as you track the works a user completes, the questions will prompt,

-What is your customer’s profession?

-How much importance does your product have for the customer?

-Is there any broken link in their workflow?

Apart from the generalized empathy mapping, another version specifies the user and product needs, known as the refined empathy map. The primary categories included in the same are mentioned below.


What is the most important thing to the customer? Does the user feel good while using your product?


Is there any basic task that the user is planning to complete?


Under which circumstances your user’s actions are influenced?

Pain Points

Are there any difficulties that your users face? What type of stress, anxiety, or fear is bothering your user?


What are the goals of the user? What are the reasons that your users are performing a particular task?

Empathy mapping is the first step in a design-thinking process for a product or a service. But an empathy map needs to be a living document. Till the last stage of the product design process, you must keep updating the empathy map for the design decisions.

The whole process of UX design has nine steps. Take note of how empathy mapping plays a significant role in a user-focused product design.

1. Empathy Mapping

As mentioned, empathy mapping is the first step of a UX design process. You need to do detailed research, surveys, and interviews of the users for an empathy map and share it with the stakeholders to use.

2. Keep the User Personas Ready

The information you receive from an empathy map will help you understand the target users. Creating user personas is necessary to know about the users you target to engage. Imagine how a user will use and respond to your products.

3. Get a detailed description of the User Journey

Does your user like the product? What is the experience that your user is having after using your product or service? When you create an empathy map, you can have an idea about the user experience, which is of great help in creating the best experience for the users.

4. Prepare a User Flow

The actions a user will take determine the user flow. Work on the minute details like the button user will click or the landing pages. Build a flow chart and refer to the empathy map to understand the user flow that will bring the best user experience.

5. Create the Wireframes

This step is quite exciting as you will have a visual representation of your product for the first time. Those monochrome wireframes may not look as appealing as the designers abruptly sketch them. The user interface elements will keep updating as soon as the user flow is revised.

6. Determine a Style Guide

Once you are done with the monochrome wireframes, it’s time to work on the visual style guide of the product. Having a style guide ready will be the first step of consistency that you maintain in the design process. Go through the empathy map to get an idea of what attracts your users the most.

7. Work on the Graphic Components

You can use the empathy map, user personas, and style guide to determine the visual components of your design, including icons, cards, bars, and controls. Have the graphic design elements ready to evoke the emotions of your users and inspire them to take action.

8. Time to Take the final call on Visual design

Put all the designs together for your final product and get the real copy ready by replacing the actual graphic components.

9. Previewing and Testing the Design when it’s completed

Always preview the design to ensure it is responsive and looks exactly how you want it. The final design needs to be run on different screen sizes. Thus, you will be assured that all the graphic components look as you had designed.

-Better understanding of the Target Audience

-Well-sorted information presented in a simple format

-Affordable and Faster

-Easy to customize

-Understanding the customers’ needs and creating user-friendly products

-Describes how the customer thinks, says, feels, or does

Empathy maps and personas are relatable techniques. However, there are certain differences between these two. Persona is mainly based on fictional users. But empathy maps are created depending on the real characters. A user persona will tell you the target audience, whereas empathy maps specify the customers’ needs, behaviors, and attitudes.

Example of an Empathy Mapping Exercise

If you are new to UX design and have not yet gained a lot of knowledge on Empathy Mapping, you can refer to the example below. It represents a working professional’s empathy map for registering for a career-oriented course.

Image credit: Unified Infotech

As you gather the team for the empathy mapping session, let your team members share their views on the following questions.

-What is the user thinking?

-What are the worries they might have about the products?

-What is their feedback regarding the product?

-What will the people in their surroundings say after using the products?

-Does the user find using our product in their environment convenient?

-What does the user feel when he/she is using the product?

-What are the pain points of the user while using the product?

-What are the setbacks or unusual experiences users may have by using your product?

To conclude, Empathy Mapping is one of the most important skills for designers. It builds empathy with the prospective customers helping the designers understand the user perspective and create user-centric designs.

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