What is Empathy in Design thinking?

Empathy is the first stage of the design thinking process. The main goal of this process is to gain a deep understanding of the target audience’s preferences by stepping into their shoes and understanding their perspective. In short, to see, feel, and experience things from the audience’s perspective is referred to as empathetic design thinking or empathy in design thinking. 

Empathy is a vital element of the design thinking process because it helps businesses identify and fulfil their audience’s emotional and physical needs. It helps companies develop a product that meets the requirements of the audiences and aligns with their brand image and business purpose. It is often considered the cornerstone of a successfully designed product. 

Why is empathy in design thinking important?

Design thinking is a human-centred design process that guides designers to understand user perspectives. Here are the top reasons that underline the importance of empathy in design thinking: 

Crucial for business success 

Empathy uncovers deeper human emotions and behaviours, which helps create better solutions to customer problems and stay relevant and successful in a dynamic business environment. 

Helps you read between the lines 

As discussed earlier, empathy helps gain deep insights into a customer’s psyche. It helps in identifying the motivation behind customer preferences and likes. 

A designer must keep these points in mind while identifying their target audience’s needs:

  • Identify what is hinted at beneath the external expression and words 
  • Develop intuition, imagination, and emotional sensitivity to dig deeper into people’s experiences 
  • Extract the right kind of insight to make a meaningful difference 

How to empathise with the audience?

There are different ways to understand what the audience wants. Below are the top four ways to understand what the audience wants. 

  • Interview

One way to understand the audience’s preferences is by conducting interviews. This helps in uncovering deep insights about the mindset of the audience. 

  • Observation

Observing your target audience’s behaviour helps you understand how they behave in their natural habitat. It also gives you an idea of how they will interact with the product or service. 

  • Ask why, how, and why 

Constantly asking questions like what, how, and why to your target audience helps in translating your observation into concrete findings. 

  • Empathy maps 

Empathy maps are an excellent tool for understanding the audience and sharing the learning with different business entities. It is a visualisation tool that makes it easy to understand what we know about a type of audience. 

What comes after the empathising phase?

After the empathising stage, the next step is defining the problem statement based on the learning from the first stage. This will be followed by ideation, prototyping, and testing. 

Remember that design thinking is not linear, so you can begin the design process from any stage. 

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