Day#357: The importance of empathy maps

Day#357: The importance of empathy maps

Hey Researchers today I wanted to discuss empathy maps and why I have come to see them as such an important tool. So firstly disclaimer I did at first think they may be a little odd, I was being over run at the time by everyone over emphasizing empathy and was like this must be another empathy thing but this one works and is pretty valuable. So don’t judge me I was young and naive haha!

So how does it work?

Well you can check out The NN/G for more information on this here

If you have not heard of the NN/g then please go and read. EVERYTHING just everything, they have a wide variety of articles on a multitude of topics within the research space. I once read an article on ear tracking, can you believe! Anyway empathy maps is basically laid out in a four quadrant template that can reworked for anything. You have four main categories within each quadrant and they are as follows..


Here this is where you capture what the actual user is saying, I recently ran some undercover research work. I visited locations and pretended to be a customer, it was very interesting to put myself in that space and hear how my own questions change per environment and experience. 


This is where you are capturing what the participant is thinking, with my scenario mentioned above it would be easy because I was already a customer and it was easy to elicit my true emotions because this experience in particular that I was working on was not something I was very well versed in or biased towards because of my lack of knowledge on it. When working with a participant this is where using the think aloud method is so important, and making your participant feel comfortable to talk you through their thoughts will allow for you to add them here. 


When it comes to the “Does” part this easy for you to document, i will say it can become easy with each of these steps to see what you want to see. Ensure that your own biases are not clouding the actual truth, ask questions if you don’t feel certain on a user’s facial expression or their tone. There can be cultural differences and nuances that you may not pick up on when someone does something. 


Ah this one can be the toughest in certain situations, I have had participants who are not very comfortable sharing how they feel, as well as some that simply are very action based and respond to this with a verb. I will say this, work on having adjectives at every point of gathering information but especially here. You want people to indicate happiness, frustration or any other feeling they may have. Don’t run a NPS for this please, you will be sitting with an array of numbers that will look odd on the visual and not make much sense. You want to have these words impact the stakeholders you will be presenting to. 

With that in mind you can run these in the synthesis workshops I mentioned in the previous post. Something else that I want to mention when it comes to using these types of methods stick to short hand precise words, phrases and quotes. I once saw two junior researchers working on a synthesis and having a stack of notes to go through for the synthesis session. Whether you are using empathy maps or simply running a synthesis workshop it’s not an essay you are submitting. It’s meant to be interactive and allow for high level pattern recognition from arranging the data. These artifacts are all so valuable and helpful in helping teams understand their users better, happy researching until next time!

Bye for now

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