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Empathize with users
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with users

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings or thoughts of another person in a given situation. Empathy with potential users is important for every step of the design thinking process.

But when you think about empathy in the context of similar words like compassion and sympathy, the meaning can get a little blurry. So let us break it down. When you feel sorry for someone, you feel sorry for them. But pity usually has a condescending connotation. Think of it this way. Pityful and pathetic are synonyms. When you feel sorry for someone, you acknowledge their feelings, but you stop yourself from feeling those feelings.

Empathy goes beyond sympathy. When you empathize with someone, you share their mental and emotional experiences. Empathy is at the core of everything we do. When you approach UX research with empathy, you find it easier to solve the right problem. Like everyone else, UX designers make a lot of assumptions, but UX design is not about solving problems we assume users want solved. It's about solving problems that users actually want solved.

  • #Empathy
  • #Sympathy

How to empathize with users?

Ask a lot of questions

As a UX designer, you can not make assumptions about your users' needs. Instead, ask your users directly about their needs and wants, which your product design can address. Ask questions that start with "what," "how," and "why" to gain a deeper understanding of your users' perspective.

Become more attentive

Focus on the entire user, not just the words they use. In interviews where the user is physically present or recorded on video, observing a user interacting with you or your product can provide physical clues that can inform your research findings. To record your observations, take detailed notes or even record your sessions with users.

Be an active listener

Active listening requires you to fully focus on what the user you are interacting with is saying, and to understand and remember it. Do not get distracted by where the conversation is going or what you might say next. In UX design, active listening can help you get unbiased feedback directly from your users that you can use to improve your designs.

Always request input

It's important that the feedback you receive is objective and unbiased.

Friends or colleagues often give biased feedback, usually positive, because they support you or want to please you. That's why it's important to ask for feedback from a variety of sources and user groups. When asking for feedback, use open-ended questions to understand users' real thoughts about the experience or product.

Be open minded

As UX designers, we need to set aside our biases to better empathize with others. Your goal is to understand the user, not to complicate their feedback with your own opinions and emotions.

Stay updated on UX Research

Follow researchers and join online communities to stay up to date on research that affects UX designers and the users you design for. Research is constantly changing and evolving as we learn more and more about human psychology. Staying updated will give you an advantage when it comes to how you understand and interact with your audience.

  • #MoreQuestions
  • #Attentive
  • #ActiveListening
  • #RequestInput
  • #BeOpenMinded
  • #StayUpdated

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Empathy is sometimes confused with sympathy, but the two terms don't mean the same thing.

Empathy is understanding another person's feelings or thoughts, often by feeling the emotions yourself. Sympathy is the experience of showing concern or compassion without feeling the emotions yourself.

Empathy is the actual understanding of another person's thoughts and feelings by using one's own experiences to understand those of another person.

Example statement, "I understand what you're going through. I know words didn't help me when..." "It can be hard to hear criticism sometimes. I've learned to deal with it by..."

Sympathy: Recognizing another person's situation and responding with support and comfort that remain superficial and impersonal.

Example statement, "I'm sorry you're in pain." "I'm sorry your feelings are hurt. Use this criticism to do better next time."

By effectively empathizing with your users and doing your best to understand their needs, you create a great foundation for a product experience that helps solve their unique problems.

  • #Feelings
  • #Thoughts
  • #Motivations
  • #Needs
  • #Concern
  • #Compassion

Table of contents
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Empathize with users β€’

7/13 topics available

Competitive Audits

  • Introduction to competitive audits


  • Limits to competitive audits


  • Steps to conduct competitive audits


  • Present a competitive audit


Design Ideation

  • Understand design ideation


  • Business needs during ideation


  • Use insights from competitive audits to ideate


  • Use "How might we" to ideate


  • Use Crazy Eights to ideate


  • Use journey map to ideate


Goal statements

  • Build a Goal statement


User flows

  • Introduction to user flows


  • Storyboarding user flows


  • Types of storyboards



  • Introduction to wireframes


  • Paper wireframes


  • Transition from paper to digital wireframes


  • Information architecture


Ethical and Inclusive Design

  • Identify Deceptive Patterns


  • Role as a UX designer


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