The world has witnessed several revolutions that have changed the society in many ways. These changes are the outcome of empathy, extended by a handful of individuals who understand the pain and suffering of common people.
Likewise, many innovative solutions are the result of empathy, shown by a hand few who, not only know, but understand their end users’ needs and frustrations. They are also aware of their motivations and goals.
Many organizations have adopted the design thinking approach as a part of their culture to tackle complex problems and improve their existing products or designs. Following the iterative process of Research, Ideate and Prototype, they have embraced the design thinking process to create a fresh new product.
In my previous blog, I had talked about how to engage with your users and unravel valuable product ideas. In this blog, I will discuss the backbone of this human centric process.
Empathy and the design thinking approach
Solution, innovation, and qualitative product development always start with identifying the needs of people and empathizing with their perspective. Design thinking will not be possible without a clear understanding of what the users perceive and experience.
Empathy needs to be at the core of the design thinking process, enabling you to observe and understand people better while also learning about their needs, wants, motivations, frustrations, pains, and goals. In general, empathy gives you the ability to see with the eyes of another, putting aside your perceived assumptions and understanding their experiences evocatively.
As a designer or an individual stakeholder, empathy will empower you to craft a desirable experience for the user. Additionally, it will give you an understanding of the economic possibilities and the technical feasibilities for the innovative ideas.
Empathy can be split into two kinds - emotional empathy and cognitive empathy. Emotional empathy makes you well-attuned to the other person’s emotions. Emotional empathy is noticeable during interviews with the respective users, but may lead to misunderstandings and subjectivity, if misinterpreted. On the other hand, cognitive empathy is the real experience felt by the users while exploring the actual product or a prototype in a controlled environment or the actual workplace.
How to be Empathetic
One’s experience cannot be fully cognized by the other, but you can attempt to get as close as possible to understand them. During the initial research or testing phase of cognitive empathy, you can probe into the user’s actions, emotions, and behaviors to comprehend and study their behavior.
Throughout the design thinking process, the UX expert should be:
Curious to learn about the users’ goals and their activities
Keen on developing observational skills to view the users’ standpoint
Humble enough to become an attentive listener to hear out for their experiences with car
Probing users with constant questions during interviews will help bring out best insights for delivering a suitable value proposition.
An approach towards cognitive empathy—UX experts can build up the product’s competency and beneficial aspects to associate the user’s needs with the desired results.
Design thinking is a human-centered methodology for cultivating creativity and confronting the complex problems through innovative solutions. Consequently, empathy becomes the backbone of this design thinking process. Empathy doesn’t always solve real-world problems and doesn’t aid in making concrete decisions, but it is essential to the design thinking process, correlating between the analytical value and qualitative information.