What are Empathy Maps?

What is an Empathy Map?

An Empathy Map is a Collaborative Tool, used to get a deeper insight and understanding of Users who may use the site. A Persona of a user is created and you think about what the user may Think, Hear, See and Say. Here is the typical layout of a Blank Empathy Map:


How do I use an Empathy Map?

To begin with, the team involved in the project are gathered round a Whiteboard or Large sheet of paper where a copy of the Empathy Map Template is displayed. A Persona is then created of a user who may use the site,

e.g. Alan Smith: Very Organised, Accountant, Married with 2 Children, Paper-Bound, ColourBlind.

Each person in the team then – using Post It notes, writes down their thoughts. Everyone should try to add at least one Post It to each section on the Empathy Map. What would the User be thinking before using the site? What are the Seeing and Hearing? What are they Saying?


When are Empathy Maps used?

Empathy Maps are usually used in the Planning Process, but can be used anytime the site may draw in a new or different type of user. Empathy Maps work the best if Real Data is used, made-up data is also ok as long it sounds realistic and you could see them being a typical user on your site.


Why use an Empathy Map?

With the use of an Empathy Map, you can think more about the people who will use your site. It will make you think about the variety of users you will have, and all the different needs they may have. For example, Alan used in examples throughout this post, is Colorblind, therefore having things colour coded on my site would not be good for him. So when in the Design process of my site, I will now think of all the different users of my site, and tailor around them.

Below is a Screenshot of one of my own Empathy Maps from one of my Projects – BillBot.

BillBot Empathy Map