How to Use an Empathy Map in Design Thinking 

Some brands know exactly what their customers desire. This is because they focus on gathering enough data to understand customer choices and market trends. However, this is not the case with every brand, and some still struggle to find accuracy when it comes to market conditions. This is where the empathy maps are important. They provide an accurate picture of how consumers feel and how you can improve upon their negative experiences. It gives insight into what you should deliver to your customers for a positive consumer experience. Doing this can be a fairly removed process at times, and using an empathy map in design thinking can help visualize consumer feedback and create real change. This article will detail an empathy map in design thinking and how visualizing information is important to meeting customers’ needs.

Empathy Map in Design Thinking 

When we discuss empathy maps in design thinking, we see four different quadrants. These four quadrants provide different dimensions to your analysis of your customer’s demands and how you can connect with them effectively. These quadrants separate the different ways consumers interact with the product and ask you to organize feedback in different areas to expose how their feelings differ from their actions and how their actions differ from their thoughts.

Visualizing information is one of the most important tenets of design thinking, which is defined as “design thinking is a process in which teams attempt to understand their customer, reimagine problems, and brainstorm solutions previously out of reach. By doing this, teams can creatively define new possibilities to find solutions.”

This process mainly involves using visual elements to organize data and express ideas in unique ways. When this is done with customer feedback, it allows you to create empathy with your principal user better and iterate your product based on this feedback. Now, let’s explore some impactful implications of an empathy map in design thinking.

Empathy Map Quadrants

The four sections of an empathy map are Thinks, Feels, Says, and Does. These quadrants all represent the actions, motivations, and feelings of your user as they interact with your product. The extent and scope of your empathy map will depend on the scenario you’re analyzing, and this will also determine the impact of the feedback on your product. If you create an empathy map for a specific user flow, that feedback will be directly related to that section of the product. If your empathy map is designed for your brand in general, you will have to locate places the user’s experience can be improved manually.

These quadrants are the core elements of an empathy map and can be edited, manipulated, and filled in depending on the unique goals of your exercise.

Pains & Gains of Empathy Maps

The quadrants mentioned earlier are the essential parts of any empathy map that can influence and create an empathy report of your product. To get valuable use from an empathy map in design thinking, you need to understand the pains and gains of using one.

The main gains are apparent and have been elaborated on already. An empathy map enables you to feel the pains of a customer deeply and visualize this information, allowing you to structure product changes to meet their needs effectively.

One of the only pains of using an empathy map is that the required actions need to be manually created and aren’t an inherent part of the structure. This is troublesome when your empathy map is very broad, and it requires you to extrapolate based on feedback where you can change your product most effectively. 

How Empathy Maps Make an Impact

When brands want to see their perception among users and how their customer base sees them as a company, they can turn to an empathy map. It gives a better understanding of both user and the product in the market and what you need to do to reach your target audience. 

When to Utilize Empathy Maps?

You can utilize or create an empathy map when you want to analyze market conditions, customer choices, and insights from your targeted consumers. However, it can further be used in certain situations that we have listed down below,

Introducing a New Product

If you want to introduce a new product to the market but are doubtful about the trends, you can do an empathy map exercise and find out the results. 

Developing any marketing campaign

If you are trying to design a marketing campaign and wonder if there are any gaps in your audience’s perception, start using empathy maps for your guidance, and you will soon hit better results. 

Adding new features or reviews to a product

 If your already existing product needs a makeover and you are thinking of adding some new features to the product, you can easily use an empathy map to decide what your users want and what they need from the brand. 


Using empathy maps can create product consistency and engagement with your target market. It creates unity and clarity in your team’s opinion regarding business decisions and marketing campaigns and is very impactful when implemented with design thinking. If you liked this article, check out some of the benefits of implementing empathy maps.

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