Empathy & Imagination — the secret of great product creators

Why?

It seems like we all have this “superpower” that we’re not
using enough.
This superpower can help us build better products, make a
design and ideation process much more accurate and
improve everything that we create eventually.

What?

So what exactly are we talking about? well, this is a combination of two skills (that most people have):

  1. Empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
  2. Imagination — the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses

These two skills combined can make wonders in your day-to-day life, and if you practice them they will evolve just like a muscle.

How?

Well, it’s actually not so hard to do, but it requires keeping it on top of your mind.

When you’re doing a task, any task — try to:

  1. Think about the person who’s going to use this product, how he feels at this moment
  2. Imagine yourself as this person in that particular situation, and how you’ll react to it.

For example:

  • If you’re cooking, and you’re wondering how to cut a carrot (in size), try to imagine the feeling of chewing it up in different sizes — you’ll be surprised how this can upgrade your cooking skills.
  • If you’re designing an app for dating, and the user got rejected by someone, try to imagine how you would convey this message so his feeling won’t be hurt.

In many product creation sessions, you’ll hear lots of reason based arguments — backed by statistics, or usually just personal (gut) feeling. 
Yet those important skills are usually being disregarded when not thinking about the user’s feeling, and trying to feel them by yourself is missing a quite important part of the process.