Have Some Empathy – Travelling With The User – Part IX

Empathy is a key element of creating the digital space. Knowing why you are designing or developing a content vessel is paramount.

In the past couple of years, “empathy” has become a sort of a buzzword, just like user experience. In every meeting, there will be at least one person who will mention it. But this is not the reason for you to have empathy.

Being able to put yourself in the user’s shoes will make you a better designer/developer. Knowing the user’s emotional drive or what makes her use your app, platform, or web property will open your creativity.

There are a few ways to figure out what the user wants and needs. Some digital professionals do an extensive research of the target audiences. Others go to extra lengths and physically observe them in the real world for a period of time. Third, are digging deep into their analytics trying to figure out why people drop in the middle of the checkout process or leave the site soon after landing on it.

However, the research and the findings mean nothing if they are not applied accordingly into the design of the project at hand. Empathy means that you should “become the user” and look at all the touchpoints, environments, mediums and processes and how they can be optimised.

Empathising while creating content is also an important step. The result is an established shared reference with the user and delivering engaging texts, graphics or calls to action. And here again, the digital professional should know her target audience very well.

To put empathy into perspective, one should look at it as preparing for a presentation, an exam, a sermon or a public speech. The main questions are “Who is the audience?”, “How can I best tailor my message to make it memorable”, “How can I engage it meaningfully?”, and “What are its priorities?”.

Empathy is not an empty word. It is a necessity in the digital world.

This post is part of a talk I gave at Bulgarian Web Summit on “Travelling With The User”. You can find the slides here.

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