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30-40 minutes

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  • A large sheet of paper or a whiteboard

  • Empathy map template (optional to drawing it on whiteboard or a sheet of paper)

  • Coloured pens

  • Sticky notes

What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


An empathy map is a visual tool that can help to get a better understanding of the customers. It encourages experiencing the world from the customer’s perspective, and helps to gain insight into their emotional and cognitive perceptions on the topic of the research and the problem. An empathy map helps to gain deeper insight into the problem area and identify areas for attention and improvement. It is then possible in the following phase to generate ideas for the solution that resonate with the needs of the customers. Gaining a deeper understanding of the customers helps better address services to their needs, increasing the attractiveness of the services to them.


Steps how to use this tool in practice


The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.


Download and print the empathy map or you can create your own on a large sheet of paper. If you want to create empathy maps for different kinds of customers, download one map to represent each type of customer.


Think about your typical customer and fill out your empathy map for this customer. Select such that arises from your research, for example from the empathy interviews. You should have four quadrants: “Says”, “Thinks”, “Does”, “Feels”. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and try to answer the following questions on the empathy map:

  • “What does your customer say?” Write down key words.

  • “What does the customer do?” Write down their actions and behaviours.

  • “What does the customer think?” Think about their motivations, goals, needs, desires and beliefs.

  • “What does the customer feel?” Write down their emotions.


Write your ideas on sticky notes and place each note in the respective quadrant.


Once you have all quadrants filled in, make a synthesis. What are the needs of your customer? What is she/he expecting from the researched issue? What is helping him/her to have a positive experience with the researched issue?

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • You can make customers fill in the empathy maps about themselves, after which you can combine their answers and create different types of typical users of the answers. Each customer can fill in their own empathy map or they can fill in one big empathy map together.

  • Empathy maps can also be used directly on a service or a product when a specific service or product is a subject of research.

  • Sticky notes of different colours can be used for the four different quadrants to help visualise the question areas “Says”, “Thinks”, “Does” and “Feels”.

If having a social media channel, it is useful to go through customer’s comments on the researched issue to get a better idea of their points of view for filling in the quadrants.

Other tools of this phase

6 questions for gaining a comprehensive view of the issue.

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A visual model of the service for research.

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Interview to get a better understanding and insight of an identified problem.


Interviewing with images to stimulate more spontaneous responses.

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A self-documentation method used for observation and reflection.


A map of all stakeholders, and their importance and relations.

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Obtaining user experience information through observation.

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