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An empathy map is an exercise designed to capture and organize data about your users’ emotions and environment. What are they seeing, thinking and feeling, and hearing?
User empathy mapping is a key activity that helps align the entire team—including designers and stakeholders—around the users’ experience and hone in on the fact that your product is just one part of a larger ecosystem of variables.
Start by listing what your users are thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, doing, etc. while using your product. What else is going on that will affect their workflow?
Although empathy maps can be a way to organize discovery research, they can also be equally beneficial as part of a kickoff workshop. Done early in a project, empathy mapping can help designers get familiar with the product and ecosystem. It helps establish a working theory about users, which may be proved or disproved during user research.