Research Methods


The class activity was very interesting. I was in the same group as Shruti and we both thought that the exercise felt like a group therapy session. We all reflected on the speaker’s comments in a way in which we assured their opinions or trajectory on their career. Since we were design students struggling with similar problems, our group had a more empathetic outlook on each other. Although the activity was awkward at first, the conversation was productive in helping us see the daily struggles we all share.

Empathy Maps

Developed by Dave Gray and his team at XPLANE, the empathy map can be used to improve user experience, navigate organizational politics, and design better work environments. In its newest version, the empathy map incorporates goals to help teams clarify the context and purpose of the activity. Each section hosts a series of questions such as: What do they need to do? What do they see? What do they say? What do they do? What do they hear? Who are we empathizing with? And what do they think and feel? This human centered approach in Empathy Maps create a framework for designers to use when doing field research. The “Think and Feel” question of the empathy map is used to emphasize the differences between what people observe and what they feel which can be guessed or inferred, but never seen. Teams must first answer the outside elements of what is going on physically in front of the user, before focusing on what’s going inside their head. This is used to better imagine what it’s like to be inside someone else’s head which ultimately facilitates a deeper understanding on the user experience of the service or product. Meeting people out on their home turf, while watching and listening intently is the approach designers use to synthesize all the data into an empathy map.



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