A user empathy map is a visual tool for product developers who want to gain a deeper and more personal understanding of a certain subset of users. A standard user empathy map focuses on what the user says, thinks, does, and feels throughout their engagement with your product or service process. User empathy maps should be created and analyzed by your team in order to form a consensus on how they believe their users react emotionally to certain aspects of their product.
Creating user empathy maps is an essential part of the product development process because it allows us to experience what our customers feel when they engage with our product on a much more human level. When designing a product, it's easy to get caught up in the user experience flow and only view the process from a very technical level. User empathy mapping brings us closer to our product and our users by adding an emotional element to the user's journey. After we understand what the user is experiencing emotionally, we can leverage their emotional reactions to more successfully market our product or user experience.
What would the user say out loud if you were to interview them about your product or service experience? To make this section even more accurate, you can use direct quotes from user interviews.
What might be going through the user's head that they are not saying out loud? Often times, users do not voice all of their opinions, both good and bad, about your product or service. Try to identify what the user is thinking and how you can alleviate their concerns without them having to ask.
What physical actions are your users taking? Do they have to refresh your web page to see their new results? Do they have to contact a sales rep in order to purchase the product? Isolate the actions your user needs to take to achieve their goal.
What actual emotions are your users experiencing? These can be one word, general emotions, or they can be more specific statements geared towards your product and an actual action they took.
The first step is to choose a user persona to center your empathy map around. Your business or product may attract radically different types of users who will have completely different types of emotional reactions to the same stimuli. Choose a persona and alter the empathy map to their perspective.
Next, choose a specific objective this user is trying to achieve. Are you trying to create an empathy map for the user's purchase process? Their first interaction with your product? Their request for customer service assistance? Decide what the user's objective is and alter the emotional responses to their experience trying to achieve the objective.
Next it's time to build your map. Place an image to represent your user in the center to remind yourself and observers of who you are focusing on, and then divide the rest of your visual into sections. You can use the four common themes of says, thinks, does, and feels, or you can customize the quadrants to something more specific to your business. When building your map, remember to account for all possible scenarios or emotions your customer may experience, both good and bad.
Lastly, look through the sections of your completed empathy map and analyze particularly positive and negative flows. For example, a positive flow could be the user saying they really enjoy interacting with the product, they think the customer service is great, they click to purchase the product, and they feel excited about using it in the future. Alternatively, a negative flow could be the user saying they have no use for this product, they think the sales process is pushy and aggressive, they exit off the page, and they feel disheartened by the product or service and decide not to return or promote it. Identifying both your positive and negative flows will allow you to see what aspects of your user experience you are doing correctly, and where there is some room for improvement.
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