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Profiling your customer with Empathy Maps

Another great visual tool, Empathy Maps help you get in touch with your customers/users, focusing on what they see, hear, think/feel and say/do. Empathy Maps help you create the best possible digital experience, tailored to your audience.

Eric F 7 March 2017

What is an Empathy Map?

An Empathy Map is a visual map of your customer’s ‘world’ from their perspective. It’s a great tool to gain a deeper insight into your customers (or customer segments).

While there is some variation in layout (and they can be tailored to your needs), Empathy Maps are generally broken into four areas:

  • See (the customer’s environment)
  • Hear (what the customer hears from those around them and influencers)
  • Think and feel (what’s important, worries, aspirations, etc.)
  • Say and do (public attitude, what they say, how they behave)

This is overlaid with the customer segment’s pains (fears, frustrations or obstacles) and their gains (what success looks like).

The categories and layout can vary slightly, for example some empathy maps may group see and hear together, or separate think and feel. At the end of this blog are some links to more info and templates to see the slightly different layouts in action.

For digital projects, sometimes a section for ‘tasks’ can also be useful, focusing on what the user is trying to do.



How can you benefit?

Like many of the Design Thinking concepts, this is a highly visual tool, which ties in with the way many of us think and learn. An Empathy Map is an extremely useful way to ‘see’ the world through a customer’s or user’s eyes, to really put yourself in their shoes. When completed at the start of a project, they ensure you’re focused on the end user from the very beginning, shaping the delivery around them.

For our government clients, an Empathy Map has the added benefit of ensuring a digital project adheres to the DTA’s Digital Service Standard, particularly Number 1: Understand user needs and Number 3: Agile and user-centred process.

In action

Salsa Digital has used Empathy Maps for a number of clients in the past, however much of this information is confidential. Below is a whiteboard example of one of our Empathy Maps (and yes, the writing is blurry…to protect client confidentiality).


More info

If you want to find out more about Empathy Maps, I recommend these links:

Empathy Maps are a great tool to really get in touch with your audience. Good luck!

Design Thinking blog series

Reaping the rewards of Design Thinking (#1)

Business Model Canvasses (#2)

User Research (#3)

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