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Empathy in UX Design

When designers are working on projects for users, it’s important to always have the mindset of creating something that will solve user’s problems while also accomplishing their needs. Certainly, there’s also a place for creativity and self-expression — though this shouldn’t be the designer’s main focus. In order to truly understand the needs and wants of a user, it’s necessary to have empathy as a designer.

Empathy is a word that’s creating quite the buzz in the industry, for many reasons. In UX design, where enhancing the user satisfaction is important, empathy is a critical skill — on par with mastery of design tools like those in Adobe Creative Suite.

To state things simply: empathizing allows designers to understand users better. Empathizing helps designers to look deeper into situations in a way that helps them to think and create solutions for problems.

Research by William Hudson in 2009 suggested that people working in the technology field (more specifically, males), have lower empathy. If there is a disconnection between the designer and the user, the project won’t progress smoothly. It’s a simple cause and effect relationship.

So, in order to fight what may be your natural tendencies when it comes to design, or simply to understand a current knowledge gap that can be overcome, let’s take a deeper look at empathy in UX design.

What Is Empathy?

Before we dig too deep, let’s consider the root of the word, “empathy”.

Empathy is the ability to understand other people’s feelings. It is about becoming aware of what other people feel and sharing their emotions. It serves as a way to link yourself and another person together. When talking about “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”, you’re referring to empathy.

Empathy is often confused with sympathy.

While empathy involves sharing the feelings or emotions of another person by putting yourself in his/her position, sympathy is a feeling expressed for someone else. Sympathy is the act of showing concern or compassion for someone else.

The importance of empathy in the design is becoming more and more obvious each day. It is considered as a skill. The good news? It can be developed.

 

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