Empathy Map

What is an empathy map?

An empathy map is a visual and interactive method of understanding how a user or user group thinks and feels when working to achieve a goal. Empathy maps can be used by teams to acknowledge pain points in a process or system a user might be experiencing that wouldn’t typically stand out.

How to create an empathy map:

Think in first person from the user’s perspective. You can create an empathy map with real users if you have access to them, or do it with your project team going on assumptions.

Using this template, answer the following items from the perspective of your persona as they attempt to achieve their goal:

  1. Think/feel - What really counts, major preoccupations, worries/aspirations
  2. See - What the personas perceives from the people and in uences around them
  3. Say/do - What is the persona saying/doing; how they interact with others, appearance
  4. Hear - What are coworkers saying, what are managers saying, what are clients saying, what are friends saying
  5. Pain - What are the persona’s obstacles, frustrations, fears
  6. Gain - What are the persona’s wants and needs, obstacles, metrics of success

When to create an empathy map?

You should start creating empathy maps at the beginning of any project or major iteration of a project.

Why create an empathy map?

Empathy maps are valuable to teams in the early stages of a project by clearly depicting pain points in a process or system that currently exist and cause the user frustration. This allows the team to acknowledge those problems and create resolutions for them early in the project.


An understanding of common user journeys is needed before an effective empathy map can be created. Once this is obtained, a combination of assumptions and/or interviews can be used to quickly map emotions to specific points in the journey.


Determining the emotions tied to specific points is relatively cut and dry (no one experiences positive emotions when waiting on hold for customer service, for example), but typically involves some subjectivity. The results of an empathy map can assist in creation of personas and other useful documentation, but are typically not actionable in and of themselves.


Mapping expected emotions to key subtasks in a user journey does not require any specific knowledge or tools.