What are your customers seeing, feeling, and thinking?

Typically, research notes are categorized based on what the research interviewees were thinking, feeling, doing, seeing, and hearing as they engaged with your product. It helps your team zoom out from focusing on behaviors to consider the users’ emotions and experience as well.

How to Organize Your Empathy Map

There are different ways to organize your empathy map, but all ideas should have a few important elements. There needs to be space to work on the whiteboard or large sheet of paper. Divide the blank space into sections with the user in the middle. It is customary to represent the user with a big empty head. Around the user in the center of the board, the rest of the paper needs to be sectioned off into quadrants. These quadrants will then be labeled after away the user is experiencing their exterior world or internal mindset. This could include what the user is doing, seeing, thinking or feeling including their discomforts and other benefits. The group will work together to begin filling in each section with information according to what their data provides.

Step 1: Focus and Goals

Who is the person on the map?

This is the user you want to learn more about and fully understand. Take time to fully immerse yourself in their role and summarize this. If there are several users in mind you will need an empathy map for them all.

What is the desired outcome?

What is it that you hope your user will accomplish? What would a successful scenario look like? Is there something he or she would need to do differently, for example? Of course the exercise is all about empathy, but it is also about setting the context for the activity and considering the desired success is important.

Step 2: Capture the Outside World

Of course, there is no right or wrong way to accomplish this exercise. Nevertheless, I have found that it is generally easier to begin with all the observable exterior activities in the user’s world. Participants will typically be able to generate more ideas in the observable category before they can take introspective views. Begin with something simple like examining user’s experience and considering what it would be like to be this person. Complete the sections of the map with things you user says, dos, hears and sees.

What do they SEE?

What type of things does she encounter in her day to day environment? These could be people she sees, things, or other activities. What do the people around her do? Is she reading, watching, doing, or exposed to anything in her environment or marketplace that could be used to influence her in one way or the other? Consider the type of things and object she will be offered by the competition. Never forget that you are in her world now not your world, and you can’t assume that your company is holding her attention. You might believe that your options and presentation are perfect, but so do the 20 others she is seeing.

What they DO and SAY?

Take a moment to consider her behavior and the way she lives. What sort of attitudes does the hold dear what does she do or say? All of these things may change depending on who when is with, where she is and what is happening around her. Her attitude can be considered the actions she performs and the opinions she holds. If you think it will be suitable, consider any recent behavior changes. For example, she may have been the biggest fan of social media until 3 months back when she began spreading the word that Facebook is evil. Now she only uses it to stalk but rarely posts anything.

What does she HEAR?

Consider what sort of things the user is hearing and how this will begin to change her thinking. Here you will want to think about closer relations, friends and relatives and even coworkers or professional acquaintances you can also take a look at what types of blogs, influencers and experts in the field they would follow. Be sure you focus on things that will actually impact her not just the regular run of the mill chatter that floods information streams these days.

Step 3: What’s in their mind

Now after the length and breadth of external realms has been explored fully, you may move on to the inside of the mind and begin considering the thoughts and feelings that are not observable. These will be based on guesswork, implications, inference and other speculations but can also be supported with direct quotes produced during research. This is the central crux of the issue and the point that really matters as your team works to get inside your user’s head.

What do they THINK and FEEL?

Now you must take the time to consider what matters the most to your user? What are the positives and the negatives of her thought process, the things that make her essentially good or bad? What are her concerns and what types of things keep her up at night with worry? Is she more likely to feel anxious, worried, excited or frightened?

Be sure to include an overview of her pains and gains. In her perspective, what are success and failure? Be sure to look deeper into her challenges, frustrations, and difficulties. Then move on to examining aspirations dreams and goals.

Step 4: Summarize and Share

Finally, take a moment to look over what you have learned and reflect on the information. Did everyone get a chance to voice their opinions? Be sure to consider how the process changed your perception or produced new insights. Finally, capture the essence of your conclusions and ideas your team has produced. Hanging the final results somewhere all can see is a good idea to keep the user at the heart of the enterprise.