Empathy Maps

How do you win the attention of your audience and create content they actually care about?

It happens when you take the time to understand and take on their thoughts, feelings and motivations as your own; it happens through empathy.

Empathy mapping is an effective way to tap into the head and heart of your desired audience.

An empathy map is a tool to get to know your target audience in order to align your business strategy and value proposition with the customer’s wants, needs, goals, and feelings.


Traditional empathy maps are split into 4 quadrants (Says, Thinks, Does, and Feels), with the user or persona in the middle. Empathy maps provide a glance into who a user is as a whole and are not chronological or sequential.

David Bland, Agile Coaching Tip: What Is an Empathy Map?

The process reveals many of the underlying “whys” behind your users’ actions, choices and decisions, so you can proactively create content and make design decisions based on their real needs.

It’s a workshop activity that takes your team from simply knowing your audience to understanding and identifying with them that creates alignment on customers’ needs, goals, and pain points, and bridges the gap between an audience’s personas and the content you create.

In the workshop, the group (or multiple groups) go through each quadrant, answering the questions for this particular persona to gain insights.

What is the customer thinking and feeling?

  • What is the customer concerned about or afraid of?
  • Is the customer satisfied? Why or why not?
  • What are the customer’s priorities?
  • What are the customer’s dreams and aspirations?
  • What causes an emotional reaction for the customer?

What is the customer hearing?

  • What or who influences the customer?
  • Is your customer easy to influence?
  • Where does the customer get their information?
  • What information channel does your customer use the most?

What is the customer seeing?

  • Does your customer spend more time in the public or in private?
  • What does your customer’s environment look like?
  • How does the customer interact with their environment?

What is the customer saying and doing?

  • How does the customer portray themselves in front of others?
  • What words does the customer use when talking?
  • What information does the customer withhold or leave out when sharing with others?
  • What is the gap between what they say and how they act?

What are the customer’s pains?

  • What obstacles does the customer need to overcome?
  • What frustrations are on the horizon for the customer?
  • Why hasn’t the customer been able to reach their goals?

What does the customer gain?

  • What methods does the customer use to achieve success?
  • How is success measured and what does it look like?
  • What are the short and long-term goals of the customer?

Thinking through what your customers is thinking and feeling will give you better empathy for them to determine, develop and deliver better experiences.

Key Benefits of Empathy Maps

  • The business will benefit with a glimpse into product-market fit early on in decision making
  • Use insights to create a product roadmap with features that will actually bring value and be used
  • Marketing and user acquisition teams already have a head start on strategy with information on who they’re targeting
  • Implementation teams can make empathic products designed for the actual end users
  • There’s very little to lose in trying it—the templates to make a canvas already exist, and circulating a completed canvas won’t take weeks of time

Tap into the head and heart of your desired audience to win their attention and create content they actually care about. Take the time to understand your customers’ thoughts, feelings and motivations as your own and align your business strategy and value proposition with the customer’s wants, needs, goals, and feelings.


Ligget, Alli. “How to Create an Empathy Map (And Why You Should).” 15 January 2018. https://www.business2community.com/leadership/create-empathy-map-01989061 

Gibbons, Sarah. “Empathy Mapping: The First Step in Design Thinking.” 14 January 2018. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/empathy-mapping/

Rosenkranz, Katherine. “Empathy Maps: The Business of Putting Users First.” 8 August 2017. https://www.invisionapp.com/blog/empathy-maps-ux/ 

Gray, Dave. “Updated Empathy Map Canvas.” Medium. 15 July 2017.