Research suggests that those working in a technological field,
specifically males, have low empathy.
Being detached from the users of a product or site - thinking of
them only in the abstract - endagers the success. If we think only
in technicalities, statistics and best practices, we lose the human
component that is cruial to interaction.
One of the hardest aspects of UX design and Human &
Computer Interaction is an assumption is that users will
approach and solve problems in the same way as designers and
developers working on your project do.
Cognitive empathy is a skill that can
be learned, even if we struggle to truly
feel empathy. It lets us uderstand the
thought process of others typically by
observation and applying empathy to
a system using tools such as empahty
maps and personas.
Emotional empathy is typically what we
think of when we think of empathy. The
emotional connection. The warmth.
The sensitivity. All the feels. This is what
drives us to create interfaces that excite
take noteBeing empathetic isn’t just a switch you can turn on or off; it’s
something you actually have to believe in and practice.
creating a user-centric
observeCreating a truly empatheic UX process
starts at the beginning of every project.
Our very first step is to figure out what we
can observe of our users so that we can
truly learn about them - both the facts
and figures and the intangibles such as
capture dataOnce we know what we are going
to observe, we must capture data.
Demographic data and general profiles
are a start, but for an empathetic
process we must dig deeper. Interviews,
observations and experiencing situations
the way users do are all types of data that
can help foster empathy.
reflectAfter gathering that data, you need to
reflect on it to make sense of it. This can
be in the form of personas, but those can
be vague and fall flat. You can strengthen
them with your data and by creating both
empathy maps and user stories.
personaOne of the most common UX
deliverables, personas have the potential
to be very useful documents if they are
prepared from contact with actual users.
Personas help visualize an example of a
customer - perfect for helping to foster
Sasha Foxcreative · expressive · experimental
IT & Internet
Occupation: Advertising Creative
Location: Chicago, IL
• To gain knowledge in areas that interest
• To explore new opportunities in her local
• To go on planned adventures with close
Sasha Fox is a creative in an advertising
agency where she spends most of her
time writing about diapers and toilet bowl
cleaner. She loves reading and margaritas
• Actions that haven’t been thought through
• Content without substance
archetypeLess fluffy and business-oriented than a
persona, an archetype is a data-driven
description of user behavior. Archetypes
provide insight into users behavior
patterns including how they are currently
using a product. Archetypes can directly
influence functionality and determine,
validate, and prioritize features.
empathy mapAn empathy map is a way to expand a
persona and truly understand the feelings
and motivations of a user.
what really counts · major aspirations · preoccupations
what friends say · what boss says · what
seeenvironment · friends · what the market
attitude in public · appearance · behavior twords others
pains gainsfears · frustrations · obstacles wants/needs · success · obstacles
user storyBy telling a story, you can explain and
understand the journey your user takes
as they go through the site. This can help
all the members of the team from UX to
client prioritize the needs of the users.
i want to
so that I can
brainstormDon’t set aside all the work you’ve done
so far and revert to your old wireframing
process. Use them to help guide your
brainstorm - what is the most important
information to your user? What problems
do they face that you can answer? How
can your interface anticipate their needs?
constructYou can’t go straight into prototyping
and development and call it a day. As you
build and adjust, make sure you weigh
any compromises with your user priorities.
Will a last minute client addition alienate
users? Will an unforseen technical
limitation force you to change your on-
testYou need to test your ideas at every stage
possible. Whether it is a formal user
test, the mom test or going back to your
interviewees to vet an idea or assumption
- don’t leave your users behind now.
Take those results and figure out where
you can make tweaks to improve your
experience. Always be testing and
architectureCard sorts give great insight into how users perceive and use
sites and WordPress allows for custom post types and custom
taxonomies for a flexible architecture. Structure your data so it
can be sorted and browsed easily. Explore taxonomies and post
types - use just enough to make your site easier, but don’t add
them just to add them.
developmentIt’s easy to leave development out of the UX process, but it is the
lynchpin to your success. Make sure not to cut corners here and
make sure you involve developers early in the process to avoid
unforseen compromises. (Developers are one of your user groups
for your UX - make sure you have empathy for them, their role
and their expertise).
designWordPress has a myriad of tools that allow your visual design
to enhance your UX - especially targeting taxonomies and post
types with custom templates or CSS. Be careful to not go too wild
with unique implementations, consistency makes for strong
contentContent is the oft-overlooked piece of UX, despite it being key to
the actual experience. Make sure you are following best practices
such as filling out alt text and meta data as well as using
language that is familiar to your audience.