July 13, 2016

Let’s Talk About:

Empathy & Design

Share the feelings of others, and you'll know their pain points and frustrations, which you can then use to create better designs. By simply stepping into the shoes of another person, we can build a better experience through understanding.

For example, when we explored the issue of medication adherence, we researched the topic but also spent time with individuals living with chronic illnesses to better understand their plight. Connecting with potential users on a more personal level provided key insights to inform our process. You can view the outcomes of that project here:

Improving Medical Adherence

Community Thoughts on Empathy & Design...

  1. 1. In Design, Empathy is Not Enough “But empathy is only a stepping stone on the way to a more important place: understanding. Understanding encompasses not only the experience of being the user (empathy) but also the forces working against the user, be they technology, business, other people, or culture. Empathy will get you to see the problems from the users’ perspective, but not the solutions.”
  2. 2. A Year of Wonder: The Neuroscience of Empathy “‘Our brains are capable of mirroring the deepest aspects of the minds of others at the fine-grained level of a single brain cell’ … ‘We do not have to draw complex inferences or run complicated algorithms. When we look at others, we find both them and ourselves.’”
  3. 3. Why Reading a Book Can Help Us Love Our Fellow Humans “‘Reading about others’ feelings and actions can activate brain areas … that enable us to subjectively relate to what these experiences feel like.’ So stories, especially when experienced through the written word, have the ability to move us so deeply that they can actually rewire our brains.”
  4. 4. Designing Beyond Empathy “Fieldwork, going to the places where people are living their lives to conduct research, is where we start to really connect with people. We learn about who they are, participate in their activities, and uncover their needs. We witness emotional responses, body language, context, and their use of space. By connecting with individuals in the field, we’re able to collect their stories and perspectives.”
  5. 5. How Empathy Works “At the end of the day, a (design) culture that embraces design empathy is a culture of good listeners and storytellers that communicates both emotionally and analytically and never loses sight of what is most important for the situations they are shaping.”

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