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Dissecting innovation tools: the Empathy Map

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Empathy Maps are very useful in order to understand and prioritize user needs. The nature of building it as a collaborative canvas with several technicians and stakeholders helps in order to establish a common ground.

In the human-centered innovation approach it is crucial to understand people’s needs and desires. Therefore it is normal that practitioners all around the world set precise toolkits that can help us develop a better understanding of what’s going on in other people’s heads.

Regarding this probably one of the most important tools is the Empathy Map. As defined by the Nielsen Norman Group, the Empathy Map is:

A collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in decision making.

How can an Empathy Map helps us:

Empathy Maps are very useful in order to understand and prioritize user needs. The nature of building it as a collaborative canvas with several technicians and stakeholders helps in order to establish a common ground. You should also pay attention to the process since usually, it can leverage insights as well.


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    1. It helps you collect data directly from the users: and this provides an incredible source of first-hand information and can help to reduce the bias of the interviewer/facilitator.
    2. It quickly shows what our end-user is: because it condensates a lot of valuable information, we can extrapolate a user persona that will help us design having the characteristics of our final user in mind.

    Communicate to others: once you finish the canvas, it becomes in a great way to show the rest of the team your insights and discoveries. The best part is that you can even consider it a live document and change it all your way through the end of the project.

    What’s the anatomy of an empathy map?

    wechange template compressed Dissecting innovation tools: the Empathy Map

     

    The says part should contain direct quotes that you gain from different research methods, such as, for example, interviews or shadowing.

    The thinks part should include notes from the researchers that answer questions like hat occupies the user’s thoughts? What matters to the user?.

    The does part is related to the actions that users usually take. Basically, the physical actions that are led by her or his thoughts.

    The feels part is strictly related to the emotional state but usually linked with the actions and thoughts in a specific moment of time.

     

    If you want to start using tools like the empathy map, remember that we’re holding this month a Professional Certification that will give you the knowledge and tools to simply make things work.

    Want to take the next step? Just write to us.

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