Create an empathy map

Building an empathy map helps you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You should be able to figure out who the person really is, what motivates her, and what she needs to solve specific problems.

The image to the right an example of an empathy map.

Let’s build it

  1. Draw a circle in the middle of a large sheet of paper, a chalkboard, or a white board and then add horizontal and vertical lines.
  2. In the middle circle, add the name of the person and photo or drawing
  3. Label the four boxes around the circle: SaysDoesThinks, and Feels.
    On sticky notes, write what you think the person that you selected is experiencing when she is most likely to be in the stressful situation you have identified. Then, add the sticky notes to the respective box.

For our example, if Maria is nervous about going to a new school and not having any friends yet, she might:

Says: Almost nothing

Thinks: “Maybe the kids won’t like me”

Does: Keeps to herself

Feels: Nervous, excited, shy

Don’t be shy about sharing your ideas on an empathy map (or anywhere else for that matter). Design thinking is all about sharing your best, craziest, silliest, even not-so-great ideas. No one is allowed to judge.

In the next section, use the ideas from your empathy map to figure out how all of these items fit in a flow and build a plan for helping your user.

Design thinking empathy map