Empathy Map Template Download

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  1. With author and founder Dave Gray’s empathy map template, your team will create better customer experiences through empathic design thinking and organizational decision making. You don’t need to start from scratch. Use Dave Gray’s empathy map template, featured in the Stanford D School curriculum and Harvard Business Review, to.
  2. The empathy map is a canvas split into four quadrants ( says, thinks, does, and feels ), all positioned around the user. Filling the map allows to produce an overview of who the user is, and to identify inconsistencies in the perception of the same user from various team members (and so intervene to mitigate the conflict).

Improve user experience and gain a deeper understanding of your customers by editing this empathy map template. Sign up for Lucidspark! This free customer empathy map template example, created by Dave Gray, will give your team a shared understanding of your user. It’s like a customizable persona map on an online whiteboard.

“Know your target audience” is common marketing advice, but it’s vague.

We’re all good marketers here. We know it’s important to understand our audience.

But how do we get from a general picture like…

“Greg is our customer avatar. He’s 45 and loves to shop at Sears.”

(Greg, you can do better than Sears. I believe in you.)

To…

“One of the biggest problems in Greg’s life is his lack of confidence at work. He knows he has something valuable to say, but he’s tired of getting talked over and is almost at the end of his rope. He desperately wants to know how to gain respect at work without compromising his friendly nature.”

???

That seems like a big jump, but not if you have the right tools.

In fact, one of the most effective tools we use to understand the emotional position our customers are coming from is an Empathy Map.

If that’s a new term to you, no worries.

In this post, we’re going to cover exactly what an empathy map is, how it can help your marketing efforts, what an empathy map example looks like, and…

I’ll even give you our complete empathy map template, along with a 4-step guide that shows you exactly how to use it to understand your audience better.

Click here to download our easy-to-follow empathy map template that supercharges your marketing.

What is an Empathy Map?

Dave Gray first developed the Empathy Map as a tool to understand users in a development setting. (Think user interface.)

That includes what they…

  • Think
  • See
  • Hear
  • Say
  • Do

…while using your product.

By thinking through and visually exploring these things, you are able to develop a customized experience for them.

We use an Empathy Map to understand our customers on a deeper level, but instead of analyzing how they interact with our product…

We look at how they interact with the outside world.

If that sounds vague, think of the Empathy Map as a way to walk a mile in your customer’s shoes.

Quick note: All the advice in this article assumes you have correctly identified your ideal customer. For this process, we use our brand strategy template, which you can find here.

When you create an Empathy Map for marketing purposes, you think through what your target customer…

  • Thinks
  • Sees
  • Hears
  • Says
  • Does

…in his/her daily life.

As a result, you develop empathy for that person. (Duh!)

All that information gives you insight into what your target customer feels.

This is the beauty of the map.

By going through the exercise, you can start to identify the things that are holding your customer back — their biggest pains.

Then, you can transform those pains into the biggest wins your customer can experience — their biggest potential gains.

It’s almost like you’re able to wave a magic wand to fix the biggest problem your customer is experiencing.

Your product, app, or book can speak directly to that problem and provide the clearest way to overcome it!

This is extremely powerful. In fact, it’s the essence of effective marketing.

We believe building an empathy map is an absolute necessity if you want to get into the mind of your target audience, which is extremely helpful when you’re launching a product, service, or new business.

It’s crucial for both marketing copy and user experience.

Let’s dive into some examples.

Empathy Map Examples

Let’s talk about Bliss Spa for a moment.

Bliss was built on customer service and amazing experience, but the thing about Bliss that really stood apart (and made it a worthwhile purchase for two major brands in the early 2000s) was this…

Bliss understood its target customer to the fullest extent.

Marcia Kilgore built Bliss on the idea that there was a woman who wanted to go to the spa on a semi-regular occasion.

She didn’t view the experience as a necessary part of her weekly schedule. But she still wanted it as something to look forward to after a stressful week or to celebrate a success.

That woman heard:

  • That she looked tired
  • That her skin was blotchy
  • The demands of her bosses, spouse, or kids

She saw:

  • The celebrities with perfect skin
  • The spa in her neighborhood that everyone raved about
  • Her face in the mirror (especially the imperfections she focused on)

She thought:

  • She deserved a treat
  • She was tired and needed rest
  • Her time was precious

She did:

  • Go to spas!

Her pain: The trouble of the world that showed up on her face

Her gain: A restful, rejuvenating experience

But imagine how jarring it was when she showed up a spa and was told…

How awful her skin looked…

How much treatment she needed…

And how much time she needed to carve out to adjust to the spa’s schedule.

That’s how Bliss’ competitors were treating their customers.

So Marcia built a spa that catered to the woman’s time, took as much time as needed for an outstanding treatment, and left the woman feeling better than when she came in.

This shouldn’t have been revolutionary, but it was!

By focusing on her target customer, Marcia built a hugely successful business. She also expanded beyond that target customer to pick up a large portion of her market.

When you use an empathy map to focus on your target customer, you can speak their language, and more importantly—

Solve their biggest pain point!

A Less Successful Implementation…

Getting your target market exactly right doesn’t guarantee success.

Think about the Fyre Festival.

Billy McFarland nailed his target market.

That person:

  • Sees the lives of the rich and famous
  • Hears the amazing experiences his/her rich friends are having
  • Thinks about significance and their outward appearance
  • Says they have the financial means to afford luxury experiences
  • Does things to show status

This is exactly the kind of person to whom the marketing of the Fyre Festival appealed.

But, while Billy got his target market right, he didn’t deliver what he promised. (We generally call that fraud.)

This is probably a good time to note that your target market can see fraud.

Don’t lie to get them. Be sincere and attract them to your brand by providing real value — not just effective marketing.

How to Use an Empathy Map (4-Step Guide)

Empathy map printable

Now, it’s time for you to supercharge your marketing.

It’s time to set time aside to get into the head of your target customer.

It’s time to build your own Empathy Map.

Click here to download our easy-to-follow empathy map template that supercharges your marketing.

Step 1: Set aside 1 hour (Yes, one whole hour)

It may take longer than an hour, but that doesn’t really matter.

This is the most important time you’ll spend on marketing this year.

Make sure the hour that you set aside is protected. Turn off email and notifications. Get in the mindset to brainstorm.

Step 2: Gather your team

Who you have in the room may be even more important than the time you set aside.

Make sure the people involved represent different points of view. And if you have someone on your team who is in the target market, that’s all the better.

Step 3: Print out this template

We’ve found that, in these settings, there is something powerful about the physical pen and paper you’re using.

So, print these out. Don’t isolate yourself to a screen.

Have a whiteboard?

Empathy Map Template Download

Make your own version of the Empathy Map on that.

Empathy Map Template Free Download

We’ve even used Post-Its, so each team member can write his/her ideas down.

Two important things to remember as you write these thoughts down:

1. There are no wrong answers (initially)

Eventually, you may find that some of the things you thought were important to the target market are not.

But in this moment, it’s more important to get all the potential thoughts, rather than only the correct thoughts.

This is simply because you may stumble across something you wouldn’t have come across had you only been trying to provide “correct” answers.

2. Spend time on each quadrant. Don’t try to do them all at once.

Self-explanatory.

Step 4: Validate and use the results

This is where you investigate the ideas you had in the brainstorming session.

Do the research. Look at what your target customer is saying online. Talk to them.

Then — and I can’t stress this enough — use your research in your marketing.

Let it guide you when you’re making a decision about what channels to focus on, what your ads should look like, and how your sales copy should read.

An Empathy Map without implementation is useless.

Like I mentioned above, having your team spend this dedicated time thinking about your target customer will be the most important marketing activity you do this year.

Invest the time to do this well. The results will be well worth it.

You’ve got some homework to do. Go get started!

Click here to download our easy-to-follow empathy map template that supercharges your marketing.

Empathy Map Template Powerpoint Download

“Well, as a user, I wouldn’t do that.”
“Our users aren’t going to worry about that.”
“It’s my project. I know what users think.”

We’ve all heard comments like this. These are phrases UX professionals do not say. As designers, we are not the users. We don’t know what they would do or how they think. No amount of training or expertise tells us what is going on in users’ heads. We can research, observe, ask, and surmise. And when we take the time to better understand them, we can empathize.

Empathy is a critical part of human-centered design. There are endless conversations about its importance in user experience work, but few focus on how to help others achieve it. As researchers, when we experience a user’s struggle first hand, feel the frustration, and hear their words, we can’t help but empathize. But behind every UX’er is a team, a client, or a company CEO that wasn’t there. They don’t understand the users wants and needs. It is our job to help them–but how? Try empathy mapping.

UX professionals often face challenging situations where colleagues and stakeholders default to their own opinions and feelings and forget about the intended target audience. While an empathy mapping session won’t alter a company culture that doesn’t value user research, it can help focus participants on users by putting them “in their shoes” when interacting with a product or service.

What is an empathy map and why create one?

An empathy map is a simple, easy-to-digest visual that captures knowledge about a user’s behaviors and attitudes. It is a useful tool to helps teams better understand their users. Empathy mapping is a simple workshop activity that can be done with stakeholders, marketing and sales, product development, or creative teams to build empathy for end users. For teams involved in the design and engineering of products, services, or experiences, an empathy mapping session is a great exercise for groups to “get inside the heads” of users.

Creating an effective solution requires understanding the true problem and the person who is experiencing it. The exercise of creating the map helps participants consider things from the user’s perspective along with his or her goals and challenges.

Empathy maps are most useful at the beginning of the design process after user research but before requirements and concepting. The mapping process can help synthesize research observations and reveal deeper insights about a user’s needs. (The maps are most effective when based on research data, but like provisional personas, can be built using knowledge from internal participants or using existing personas.) It can help guide theconstruction of personas or serve as a bridge between personas and concept deliverables.

When included in early project stages, the exercise helps teams enter the user’s world and approach things from his or her point of view before creating solutions—whether it’s ideas for content, a webpage design, app prototype, or new service offering. The benefits include:

  • Better understanding of the user
  • Distilled information in one visual reference
  • Callouts of key insights from research
  • Fast and inexpensive
  • Easily customizable based on available information and goals
  • Common understanding among teams

The maps can also be used throughout the design process and revised as new data becomes available. A sparsely populated map or a session that reveals more questions than answers indicates where more user research needs to be done.

Empathy mapping is not a replacement to journey mapping.

Customer-focused explorations have garnered more attention as organizations embrace customer-centric ways of doing business. There are many user experience mapping techniques, each with its own purpose. Customer journey mapping is a popular and extremely valuable process and organizations that create and use journey maps reap great benefits. Empathy mapping isn’t a replacement for investing in those exercises, but it is a faster and simpler way to create a focused view of what users are thinking and feeling. While both maps are built from a customer’s point of view, journey maps are a visualization of the entire experience and outline everything a user does, encounters, thinks, and feels interacting with a brand across touchpoints. Empathy maps provide a focused view of a target persona and not an wide enough vision for designing an entire user experience.

How to create an empathy map

To create an empathy map, gather any qualitative research data, personas, and your team. The only materials needed are large sheets of paper or a whiteboard, colored sticky notes, and markers. You can freehand sketch your map or print worksheets from the many free templates available online. (I prefer to use the large, canvas-sized post-its and small stickies for effective group collaboration and reserve printed worksheets for individual exercises.)

Google image search results for “empathy map template.”

Elements and Steps

Empathy Map Template Download Word

Empathy maps vary in formats, but they have common core elements. A large sheet of paper (or whiteboard sketch) is divided into sections with the user at the center. The representation of the user is often a large empty head. (Dave Gray, Xplaner founder and empathy map creator, originally called it, The Big Head Exercise.)

Around the user, the sheet is divided into sections or quadrants. Each section is labeled with a category that explores the user’s external, observable world, and internal mindset: what the user is doing, seeing, hearing, thinking, and feeling (including pains and gains). The group works together to fill in the information with their knowledge of the user and the data gathered through research.

Updated Empathy Map Canvas ©2017 David Grey
Photo credit: David Gray, Gamestorming, Empathy Map Canvas, http://gamestorming.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Empathy-Map-006-PNG.png

Step 1: Establish Focus and Goals

Who is the person for the map?
This is the user who you want to understand and empathize with. Summarize his or her situation and role. If you have multiple personas, each one will need their own map.

What is the desired outcome?
This is what you hope the user will do. What does success look like? For example, what does he or she need to do differently or decide? While the exercise is about building empathy and not selling or designing anything, answering this question helps focus participants and set context for the activity.

Step 2: Capture the Outside World

There’s no set order for completing each section, but I have found it more productive to start with the observable activities in the user’s world. Participants often generate these more easily than the more introspective steps. Start by examining the user’s experience and imagine what it is like to be her. Complete the sections of the map to capture what she sees, says, does, and hears.

What does she SEE?
What is she encountering in her daily experiences? These could be people, their activities, or things. What are the people around her doing? What is she watching, reading, and exposed to in her environment or the marketplace that could influence her? Consider alternative products and services or something the competition is doing. Remember this is her world, not yours, so don’t assume that your company or product is commanding her attention. Even if your email newsletter is fantastic so are the other 20 in her inbox.

What does she DO and SAY?
What are her behaviors and how does she conduct herself? What is her attitude and what does she say? This may change depending on where she is, who she is with, or is nearby. Attitude can be actions towards others or how she conveys something. If applicable, note how her behavior has changed recently or changes in a public versus private settings. For example, she used to constantly post on Facebook until she told everyone that it was evil. Now she secretly uses it and stalks but doesn’t post.

What does she HEAR?
What is the user hearing and how is it influencing her? Consider personal connections with family, friends, and coworkers along wth what is being said in the media by bloggers, social media influencers, and experts in fields. Focus on things that impact her thinking—not superfluous information streams. Influencers should focus on the people, things, or places that influence how the user acts. Skip the Beyoncé chatter.

Step 3: Explore Inside the Mind

After completing the outside elements, the focus moves inside the mind to explore the thoughts and feelings that are internal to the user and not observable. These might be inferred, guessed, or captured in direct quotes during research. This is the central point of the exercise, as teams imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s head.

What does she THINK and FEEL?
What matters to the user that she is thinking about it? Consider positive and negative sides of thoughts. What makes her feel good or bad? What does she worry about or what keeps her up at night? Her mind is exploring paths and possibilities as she considers doing or trying something. How does she feel? Frightened? Excited? Anxious?

Next, explore the specifics of her pains and gains. What does success and failure look like? Capture frustrations and challenges, the obstacles that stand in her way. What goals and dreams does she have? Gains are what she aspires to achieve or have.

Completed Traditional Empathy Map with four quadrants by NNGroup, ©NNGroup
Photo credit: NN/g https://www.nngroup.com/articles/empathy-mapping/

Step 4: Summarize and Share

When all the sections are complete, take a moment to reflect. Have participants share their thoughts on the experience. Ask how it changed their perspectives or if it produced new insights. Capture conclusions and ideas the team generated, take pictures, or create a new electronic version for sharing online. If you work in an office, hanging the original empathy map in a public area or creating designed poster versions (Check out Peter Boag’s) is a great way to expose others in the organization to the persona and encourage the customer-empathy mindset.

Remember though, empathy mapping is a UX tool and not a solution to an organizational mindshift. Circulating map photos isn’t going to translate into a sudden appreciation for focusing on the user if it isn’t a part of the broader company culture. The purpose of the exercise is to put the user at the center of the participants’ minds. If the exercise leaves a lasting impact on the people who participated, consider it a success.

Tips for an Effective Empathy Mapping Session

Don’t get hung up on what goes where.
Some participants might be concerned about putting things in the “right” quadrant. (e.g. Is that a pain or a feeling? Did she see it or hear it?) If you have multiple groups working on building out maps for the same user. there will be nuances on how people categorize things. That’s okay. The goal isn’t to correctly classify information, it’s to identify with the user.

Only explore what matters about the user’s perceptions related to the project goal.
This exercise isn’t about logging every emotional and behavioral aspect of the user. It’s about focusing on the target audience and understanding his or her world as it relates to your work. Going too broad will get things off track.

Adapt the map for your situation and needs.
Change or streamline the categories to work with the session goal, persona or available data. For example, if the persona is a purchasing manager at a B2B company, feelings might not have been relevant or revealed by the research. Make whatever changes are needed to ensure the outcome is useful and the session is productive.

Empathy

Customer Empathy Map Template

Download the Empathy Map Canvas (PDF download), which appears in the David Gray’s book Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers.

Complete Beginner's Guide to UX Research

Empathy Map Example

UX research - or as it’s sometimes called, design research - informs our work, improves our understanding, and validates our decisions in the design process. In this Complete Beginner's Guide, readers will get a head start on how to use design research techniques in their work, and improve experiences for all users.