Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Extend personas with empathy maps, part of UX Foundations: Content Strategy.
- The empathy map is a great tool to deepen your understanding of your personas by placing them in the context of their surroundings. Creating an empathy map is also a great group exercise for the entire content team to get to know the target audience. To create an empathy map, you simply draw out this diagram on a whiteboard or a large sheet of paper and then you map out what the persona thinks and feels, sees, says and does, and hears, as well as their pains and gains. The actual process is pretty much akin to a brainstorming exercise where you simply think of a persona and then the whole team starts throwing out ideas about what the person thinks and feels.
So, if we take my example of a site that serves people who are looking for personal trainers. What would someone who is looking for a personal trainer think or feel? Well, they would be confused by all the options and excited because they're endeavoring on training. Then they'd also want to find the right solution and be concerned about getting the wrong solution.
Next you move on to see. Now this is what the person observes passively in the world. It could be something they watch on TV or just see people do or things that are happening outside that they're not interacting with. The most obvious thing for training would be things like infomercials and trends. They would also see people talk about specific types of exercises or wear specific type of exercise clothes. You see things like CrossFit or Yoga and you would see people do certain type of exercises because they're trendy and then move to something else and generally they just get a lot of conflicting input.
Then you move onto say or do. This is literally what that persona would say or do in the real world when they talk about it or just how they act. In the context of training, that would be things like, "I want to lose weight." So they go exercise. Maybe they diet. They would also talk about how difficult it is to do different things.
The final quadrant is hear. Hear is what people are actually telling them, so that would be influencers like family, friends, coworkers, anyone else and in this context what you hear would be from your doctor, maybe. You need to lose weight or get fit. From your friends, they would tell you what they think is the best exercise. They would say, "Go do CrossFit," or "Don't do CrossFit," or "Eat this." "Cut carbs," or "Eat more carbs." What you're starting to see here is that when you think about the persona in real life, you realize they're far more complex than simply a name and some general stats.
They interact with real people. They often have conflicting emotions and they get a lot of different types of input. After you've mapped out these four quadrants, start thinking about the person's pains and gains. And here, under pains, you're thinking about what are the challenges this person might face and what are their concerns? So if you're looking for a personal trainer, the most obvious one is, "I need to find the right trainer," and the pain would be finding the wrong solution or finding it to be too expensive or too time consuming or maybe just not finding motivation.
In the other sector, you're looking for gains. This is what the person aspires to be. What they're hoping they will gain from the experience. Better health. More energy. And, in the case of getting a personal trainer, motivation. One your team is happy with the empathy map, take pictures of it and use this information to augment your persona.
Add in new information to the persona and beef it up so that it becomes more like a real person. Then add the empathy map to your content strategy for further reference. Now, what you see here is an empathy map that's created for a persona in the real world when we're just thinking about what they are looking to do with the site. As you move forward in your project, you will end up building a website or building an app or something else and, at that point, it might be a good idea to redo this exercise with the focus of what do they think and feel, see, say and do, hear, and what are their pains and gains about the actual app or website.
That way you'll not only know their motivations and how they interact in the real world, but also how they interact with the thing you are creating. Another important point, don't make just one empathy map. Make one for each of your personas.
Learn the four elements of constructing meaningful content, from identifying your audience and structuring and wireframing content to developing content guidelines and measuring the success of your efforts. Author Morten Rand-Hendriksen also shows you how to develop persona spectrums to better understand your users and evaluate the needs of important stakeholders and influencers.
- What is content?
- The components of content strategy
- Identifying stakeholders and audience
- Developing user persona spectrums
- Auditing your content
- Building guides, templates, and workflows
- Creating the content
- Measuring success