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Build a deeper understanding of your customers with empathy maps


The ‘Empathy Map’ is one of 30 techniques included in our PLAYBOOK, the free toolkit for creative thinkers.


The empathy map builds a deeper understanding of audiences, including their behaviours, motivations and how they interpret the world around them. It is a chance for you to imagine how others might experience a situation.

Understand audiences better


The aim of the exercise is to gain a deeper level of understanding of people within a specific context, such as during a buying decision or their experience of using a product or service.


You can download the worksheet below.

Empathy map canvas
Empathy map canvas

You should be able to complete a rough empathy map in about 20 minutes, provided you have a decent understanding of the person and context you want to map. Even if you don’t, the empathy-mapping exercise can help you gain insights and identify gaps that need investigating further.

Person and goal:

First, identify your target audience and what they need to do or achieve. Using the empathy map canvas, write these down at the top of the page. You should complete a separate canvas for each target profile or audience segment.

Sensory Experience:

Focusing on one target profile at a time, now imagine that person’s experience and try to view the topic you want to explore through their senses and actions. What do they see and hear? What do they say and do? Note these down on the empathy map.

Think and feel:

Next, try to imagine their thoughts as they would express them, and delve into their emotions.  Do they have any fears or anxiety? Is the experience satisfying and rewarding? The purpose is to truly understand and empathise with their situation. What would they really think? How would they feel? Add these to the empathy map.

Reflect and repeat:

Once you’ve completed a canvas for your main target audiences, take a step back and consider how these insights could impact potential designs for a better product or service. How could you improve the experience for them? If you make changes to your design, repeat the thought process to replay their experiences in this new and improved scenario.



The worksheet is included in our free PLAYBOOK, a collection of 30 of our favourite tools and techniques. Download them all now in the PLAYBOOK.


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