Design Thinking: Getting Started with Empathy

 

For any design project to be successful, empathy is a core ingredient. A brand that understands and empathizes with its users will ensure that the outcomes of its designs are also successful. The core questions to ask are whether the design is user-friendly, whether will it solve their problem, etc. This is what empathy in design thinking is all about.



It is essential for every designer to possess empathy in design thinking. After all, design thinking and innovation are core aspects of every brand’s success today. In this blog, we’ll discuss more what is empathy in design thinking, why empathy in design thinking and innovation is essential and empathy tools in design thinking.

What is Empathy in Design Thinking?

Empathy is the starting point and an important phase of any design project. During this phase, the designer tries to understand users and their requirements. It involves observing and engaging with users to understand their emotional needs. Designers do so by setting aside any preconceived notions, biases, and assumptions. This means understanding the unique nature of everyone’s emotions and that each person feels differently. Additionally, when it comes to design thinking and innovation, it is imperative that designers take real insights into bringing actionable solutions.

 

Importance of Empathy in Design Thinking

The importance of empathy in design thinking can be gauged by the fact that people usually do not convey all details. This could be due to reasons such as fear, distrust, etc. Some people may want to express but may not be very articulate. This is where designers need to have intuition, imagination, emotional sensitivity, and creativity so that they have more information without appearing to pry. Empathy can help in gaining a thorough understanding of people, their emotions without taking what they simply say. Empathy is also crucial to the success of any business. The three key parameters that define how important design thinking are desirability, feasibility, and viability.

Design Thinking and Innovation

According to famous inventor, engineer, businessman, and holder of over 186 patents Charles Kettering, “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” Literally, every brand and product in the world is an outcome of innovation and the fact that someone chose to think out of the box. Innovation should be a continuous process for every company. And this is where design thinking comes in as the holy grail of innovation. It prevents a brand from stagnating and has the potential to turn it profitable.

Empathy Tools in Design Thinking

The different phases in the design thinking process are known as empathy tools in design thinking. Empathizing is the first stage, and the other ones include defining, ideation, prototyping and testing. The different empathy tools in design thinking include observing, engaging, and empathizing with the user base for which you are designing. You should also understand their experiences and try to immerse yourself in their physical environment.

The different stages in design thinking are:

  • Taking a beginner’s mindset
  • Asking questions like What-How-Why
  • Conducting interviews with empathy
  • Building empathy with analogies
  • Carrying out photo and video user-based studies
  • Engaging with extreme users
  • Sharing and capturing stories
  • Bodystorming
  • Creating journey maps

What is Empathy Map in Design Thinking?

Let us now understand what empathy map in design thinking is. An empathy map is an outline that imagines what a designer thinks about users. It helps in visualizing user behavior to get a deep understanding; and draws out information to arrive at a common understanding. There are four quadrants of an empathy map namely say, think, feel, and do. Empathy maps help in getting a 360-degree perspective about users.
As design thinking is an integral part of product management, let’s quickly understand what product management is.

What is Product Management?

Design thinking is an important aspect of the product management process. But what is product management? It is the role in a product development team focusing on the successful execution of a product lifecycle. Product management is overseen by product managers who put certain procedures in places, a few of them are as follows:

  • Putting forward new ideas for developing products and features
  • Bringing products to life in collaboration with the engineering and design teams

Meeting the needs and requirements of the target customer base         

An Insight into Design Thinking Courses

For those who aspire to get into product management and design thinking and innovation, there are many design thinking courses available today. Emeritus offers the convenience of studying online as well. Taking these design thinking courses will give you an edge over others and ensure that you progress in the career of your choice.

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