Empathy Map and User Experience (UX) Design Process

The design process has typically 4 stages as shown in the figure below. The research stage is essential to start the design process since it will be the guidelines for the next stages. Questions like ‘who is going to use’; ‘what tasks the user wants to accomplish’; ‘ how it will be developed’ are some of the guidelines and the quality and quantity of the research phase will have a direct and relational impact on the quality of the solution created. Rushing to design a solution without key details, such what features they might need, will mean a lot of guesswork that may or may not succeed (Hamm, 2014).

An important tool to use at the first stage is the Empathy Map. A company must understand its customers to offer the best product or service. Thinking of it, there’s a technique called “Empathy Map” which is an exercise of putting ourselves on the ‘customer shoes’ to understand their needs, aspirations and so on.

It will be used to draw your customer and understand who your customer is and thus know to whom you’re developing your service and/or product and focus on the right features, which is essential especially if you’re doing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and need to define the prioritized features to be developed.

Gather your whole team if you’re a small start-up or some people from different departments if your team is bigger. Follow the instructions that can be found on the book Business Models Generation by Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010).

In my own professional experience, the questions in the instructions might seem not applicable in some cases, so feel free to adapt to your own service/product context.

After the Empathy Map is done, it’s important to keep somewhere visible to the team so they can keep in mind to whom they are developing.


  • Hamm, M. 2014. Wireframing Essentials: An introduction to user experience design. Birmingham, GB: Packt Publishing, 2014.
  • Osterwalder, A. Pigneur, Y. 2010. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey/United States.