What does it mean to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and what is the need to do so? The answer is simple and well put together by Frank Chimero "People ignore design that ignores people”.
In the practice of human-centered design, it’s not only very important but the first step to understand the audience and fully capture their emotions. This helps guide the design decisions and create products that make sure the audience can easily navigate through the site.
Accessibility and Empathy in UX Design are interrelated as they both foster the spirit of being inclusive and thinking about the needs of the audience on a deeper level. It’s the ability to connect with your audience and learn about their emotions and problems and nurture their goals and motivation. In User Experience, it refers to understanding what your audience wants from your design solutions.
To understand who you are catering to and avoid the common misconception of using them interchangeably, it is essential to know the difference between Empathy and Sympathy.
Sympathy is barely recognizing and being aware of the suffering of others, but empathy goes beyond just knowing but understanding the nuisances of it. Being sympathetic to someone does not mean you fully understand and feel their emotions or frustrations. However, just being sympathetic doesn’t help when we are designing for our audience. Nielsen Norman Group explains this as “the true goal of design is not to be nice to users, but to empower them”.
How can empathy or lack of it affect your business?
The inability to understand your audience can produce badly designed products. If your audience losses interest in your design solutions, they are most likely going to switch to your competitors.
Empathizing with the audience can result in exceptional products which will help in increasing retention and loyalty, drive more traffic to the site, and accelerate creativity and innovation.
So, what can you do?
We’ve listed down ways in which you can practice Empathy in UX through these simple changes in how you approach your process:
1. Empathy Map
An empathy map is a visual representation of the audience’s behaviors and attitudes. An empathy map is created after audience research in the early stages of the design process. This map demonstrates key insights into audience behavior from research.
The empathy map revolves around four major parts:
This quadrant includes verbatim quotes directly gathered from the audience in the research process. It may contain statements like “this is taking a lot of time” or “I thought this process was straightforward”.
This section audience’s thoughts while going through the process. Consider thinking about anything positive or negative flowing through your audience’s mind. It’s important to understand and read through their thoughts for example “This is a bit annoying” or “Do you think I did it the right way?”.
This quadrant addresses your audience’s emotional state. Think about: What makes your audience excited? What overwhelms them? What do they get worried about? For example: “Overwhelmed because of the number of choices” or “Concerned as they don’t want to waste their time”.
This section captures the actions of your audience. In other words, what does the individual physically do and how do they do it. For example, asking a friend about the next steps, Looking for a button, etc.
2. Avoid biases
Our biases affect how we perceive others and the situation. Sometimes our perceptions and biases can become our reality and a part of our decisions making but that doesn’t mean that applies to all. Bias can come in many other forms too. For example, you may be working on a product with a particular process but it’s important to learn when that technique doesn’t work, it just becomes part of your progress.
3. Listen and accept what you’re being told
Processing what you listen to is important when you are trying to understand an individual’s perspective. Listening helps in learning your audience’s different points of view.
To address your audience’s problems in UX, try to be present and hear what people mean when they say something and understand where they are coming from. Gear up not just to listen but also to act on it!
4. Validate and test
Empathy is the starting point to creating a great experience but it certainly isn’t enough. To bring the audience’s satisfaction to the next level, it becomes more important to test your solution and to be able to fix problems. Your audience is the key to all your answers. Keep an open mind while listening to them and see if you can come closer to a perfect product for them.
Is Empathy enough?
Maybe not but it’s certainly a good starting point.
Want to learn more about the impact of Empathy in improving customer experience and get help with increasing conversion rates? Let’s get in touch and build great experiences!