In this blog, we will be discussing the "Empathise" step of Design Thinking and the various methods involved. Thus, we will be discussing the importance of Empathy in Design while simultaneously discussing the various methods in which Empathising is an important aspect of Design Thinking and Design Sprints.
In a general sense, empathy is our ability to see the world through other people's eyes, to see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience things as they do. Although none of us can entirely experience things the way someone else does, we can always attempt to be as accurate as possible. This can be done only by putting aside our own preconceived ideas and choosing to understand the ideas, thoughts, and needs instead. Thus, empathy helps us gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of people's emotional and physical needs and how they see, understand and interact with the world around them. It thus helps us understand how all of this impacts their lives generally, specifically within the contexts being investigated.
Empathise - Why?
In Design Thinking, empathy is described as a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for”. It mainly involves learning about the difficulties people face and exploring their latent needs and desires. However, this also involves having a deep understanding of people’s environment and their roles in and interactions with it. Unlike traditional market research, empathetic research involves knowing and understanding people's motivations and thoughts rather than facts about them.
In the empathise stage, a designer has to understand the people he is designing for and the problem that he is actually trying to solve. To do this, the designer needs to observe, engage, and empathise with the people he is designed to completely understand their experiences and motivations. In addition, he needs to immerse himself in their physical environment to have a deeper personal understanding of the issues, needs and challenges involved.
Methods for Empathising
There's no set "rulebook" to guide the Empathise process. Most of the time, Designers have to wing it, going with the flow to obtain sufficient knowledge. However, some commonly used methods of Empathising in Design Thinking are as follows:
• Assume a beginner’s mindset
• Ask What-How-Why
• Ask the 5 whys
• Conduct interviews with empathy
• Build empathy with analogies
• Use photo and video user-based studies
• Use personal photo and video journals
• Engage with extreme users
• Story share-and-capture
• Create journey maps
Empathy is crucial to a human-centred design process Design and empathy helps design thinkers to set aside his or her own assumptions about the world to gain insight into their users and their needs. While gathering facts, often information may be withheld, or wrong information could be obtained, which would ultimately lead to a Design outcome unsuitable for the user. Empathy assists designers in developing intuition, imagination, emotional sensitivity, and creativity in or digs deeper without prying too personally to extract the right kinds of insight, understanding the user thoroughly to make a more meaningful difference.