Empathy Map

The empathy map is a CONVERGING TOOL in the research phase to funnel accumulated insights (but also signals), condense them and look for issues that are important to the identified target group. The empathy map is a structured tool to collate obtained insights in order to create personae.

the-empathy-map

A persona is a way to model, summarize and communicate research results of people who have been observed, shadowed, interviewed. Personae are depicted as a specific person, but shall not embody a real individual. It is a fictitious character, which is synthesized from signals and insights that have emerged from many different people of the target group. Personae can also represent different segments and enable deci- sion makers to focus on a manageable and memorable cast of characters, instead of focusing on thousands of individuals.
Personae guide and inspire ideation, and help working groups to focus on a specific somebody, rather than a generic everybody.
The empathy map is a tool to create personae and covers 6 parts of the target group’s behaviour and perception:

THINK > SEE > HEAR > SAY > DO > FEEL

REQUIRED INPUT

  • Insights
  • Singled out signals, if they have special characteristics of intended personae

BENEFITS

  • Encourages comprehensiveness and pro- motes shared understanding of target group
  • Builds common knowledge base and focus in ideation, conceptualization

EXPECTED OUTPUT

  • Depicted understanding of needs and requirements of the target group
  • Main need states occurring within this target group
  • Guides ideation into a user-centred direction

HOW IT WORKS

STEP 1 – DEFINE A TARGET GROUP

When starting to create a persona, define a target group your persona shall stand for. Some working groups are already briefed regarding the target group from the very beginning of a project, others only figure out along the way when deploying research and developing insights. Define who is a relevant actor within the context of your project. Whom you would like to make a positive change for?

STEP 2 – ENRICH THE PERSONA’S ESSENCE

Sift through all accumulated insights and their individual signals. Ascertain which of them are relevant to your persona’s profile and ask yourself:
“What does the persona…THINK > SEE > HEAR > SAY > DO > FEEL…in this situation?”

At the same time, also relay on the experience you have made in field research and think back of what you have witnessed. Again, try to be as precise and unemotional as possible when writing down the persona’s essence. If you are not certain, apply the laddering technique to pin down the underlying facts in these situations (see page 7 Laddering Ques- tions).

STEP 3 – VISUALISE THE PERSONA

Give your persona a face by picking photos from magazines or from the Internet. Try also to depict the essence of the persona – show what the persona sees, hears, says, etc. Hark back to the photos you have made during field research. Remember though, the persona is not supposed to be a copy of a real person you have observed – it is a fictive profile repre- senting your broader target group. Therefore do not select several pictures showing the same (real) person.

STEP 4 – DEFINE 3 MAIN NEED STATES

When you have written down and depicted the essence of your persona, figure out what their need states are. Try to look at reoccurring patterns and draw conclusions.

AN EXAMPLE FOR DEFINING A NEED STATE

The essence of a persona profile consist of the following parts:

  • Say: “Have you seen the plug-in connector?”
  • Feel: “I feel somewhat pressured.”
  • Do: She crosses the room with quick steps several times in a row.
A plausible conclusion of these 3 essences may be the issue of workflow management – that means she has to cover a broad action field and therefore walks a lot of ways.
The persona might be in need for a different workflow structure to execute her duties in a more effective, yet unpressured way.

IMPORTANT

Try to avoid ideation at this moment and focus on analysis the present and defining reoccurring need states.

WHAT CAN PERSONAE BE USED FOR?

Stakeholder communication: introduce researched topics and issues to your stakeholders in this visual manner.
Ideation: personae guide and inspire ideation, and help to focus on a specific somebody, rather than a generic everybody.
Conceptualization: personae act as checklist to make sure the developed concept answers to identified need states.
Raw material for Touch Point Analyses.

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