Empathy Mapping

A collaborative tool for gaining insight about humans (customers, users, stakeholders, etc.).

discovery-loop-why loop position

No. People



30 minutes




Facilitator, Development Team, Stakeholder

What is it?

An empathy map is a collaborative tool used to develop insight into customers, users, etc.. It is often a starting point for gaining empathy for the people a team is solving problems for. Like a persona, an empathy map can represent a group of people, such as a user or customer segment.

  • A way to form a better understanding of users and build personas
  • The information is captured as a brainstorm for a team to develop assumptions about the people
  • The information can also be directly added from interviews, observation and other facilitated conversation exercises
  • Senses captured can include what the person is seeing, thinking, doing and feeling with information captured on a big visible chart

When to use it?

This tool can be used at various times in the product lifecycle. If there is a need to gain new understanding about people that have an impact on the growth or use of an application, this may be a good time to consider an empathy map. Particularly when first learning about new customers, users, or stakeholders.

  • A tool to identify pain points, opportunities and starts to form a basis for improvement and optimization
  • Captures information and learning directly from the end user or customer effected by the system/application/solution in question
  • Enables a direct connection between important stakeholders and the product team (for example, developers of an application can learn directly from end users using it)

Facilitation Tips

Prepare the team by letting them know this activity seeks to gain empathy for the ‘human’ solving a particular problem for. Let everyone know they are there to step into the shoes of the user, customer, etc..

  • For an immersive activity, use large craft paper or a whiteboard to draw the map
  • Have everyone write on sticky notes to develop their assumptions around the map
  • Make sure to use different color sticky notes to represent different ideas from the team
  • If using to collect feedback from a interview session, the same can be done with sticky notes
  • Make sure to include a representation of the face in the middle of the map (this should differ based on the pain points)
  • Give your empathy map a name! Similar to a persona it is easier to make a human connection when a name is added


The Empathy map has been created as a practice by Dave Gray of XPLANE

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