User Persona and Empathy Mapping: The right way to take over your customer’s headspace

Design is inherently a user centered philosophy where anything and everything revolves around the users. One of the handiest tools for a designer is empathy mapping extended out of persona researching. User persona are characters that designer creates according to the unique niche in the needs of the consumer. It is important for the designers to fall in line with how a customer might think, feel, say and do in situations. 

Empathy mapping is an underrated tool used by the designers to provide a visceral experience to the customers after identifying user persona. Through this, we designers try to imagine how consumers feel and think in a specific context. We integrate empathy mapping with the help of the identified personas. Persona is a character or a face attributed to the customers of a business. It is done by taking track of the customer’s most rational behaviour using empathy mapping and this can be envisioned by a grid-based approach

“Grid” means that the persona generation algorithm first maps the range of each attribute, and then selectively chooses values for the constructed personas that ensure equal representation in decile/interquartile range. For example, imagine three attributes (e.g., age, gender, country).

Creating personas will help you understand your user's needs, experiences, behaviors and goals.
Creating personas will help you understand your user’s needs, experiences, behaviors and goals.

What do personas include?

  • Name
  • Demographics 
  • Goals and Needs 
  • Preferences

What empathy mapping should include?

4 quadrants divided as sessions and then named as say, think, feel and good. Also add pains and gain sections at the end of the quadrants.

Empathy mapping is a tool that helps brands build Empathy towards users and helps design teams shift focus from the product to the users who are going to use the product.
Empathy mapping is a tool that helps brands build Empathy towards users and helps design teams shift focus from the product to the users who are going to use the product.

How to nail in identifying personas?

1)Use categories: Use relevant categories in a way that is useful your organization. Your user   might not just be a teacher, a person who like songs or anyone who has just distinct interests. He or she might be your enterprise recruiter, an investor, purchasers etc. Therefore, assign categories to your future users in a way that will benefit your team and company

2) Identify jobs, occupation, roles and quotes: It is important for our users to understand the possible jobs that our users might be pursuing and their roles in social and professional environments. Quotes are essentially anything that the users might say after viewing our product. Eventually create short bios from the holistic overview and focus on personal facts.

3)Nail yours’ and their goals:  Goals can essentially be of three types in empathy mapping with respective to identifying your users like life goals, end goals and experience goals. 

a) Life goals:  They can be long term goal and not all of them can be useful for our product.

b) Experience goals: How our users want to think after using our product. At times they want to feel important, sometimes they love to feel in control and other times they want to feel experienced. These are goals of the users identified when they are experiences 

c) End goals: goals that users can accomplish through using your product. Example: A user wants to file all the scanned documents as pdf, they your product might help in getting the user an end goal

d) Know personas can be flexible: Your personas can be always flexible according to your needs. Always add details that matter to the team. The details that you add must help your team when they focus on the design phase of the product.

4) Leverage persona ideas from your assumptions: Assumption’s persona can enable quality design decisions. As designers, you should do timed exercises to find goals, pain points and motivations to align your assumptions.

Empathy mapping goals

The goal of Empathy Mapping in design is to understand the reason behind some actions a user takes deeply.
The goal of Empathy Mapping in design is to understand the reason behind some actions a user takes deeply.

When you have existing personas and you want to expand them, you start thinking about how they think and feel, on the possible things that they hear, see, say and do.

1)Goal struck: Empathy mapping should begin only with a goal. The product designers should think of the possible impressions of the customers and their leading actions after they see your product.

2) Post its and meetings: You need your banger team to extract ideas on mapping how a consumer feels, say, think and do. You need to allot some time to your team to give you the major situations that can create thoughts in your consumer’s mind. Let them map out the possibilities with the help of post its or sticky notes. Later come out with ideas and patterns in synergy

3) Beyond and above persona: Often a designer brings up understandings after drawing conclusions from identification of personas. Empathy mapping should feel and look like they are extensions of personas. For this, you need to have assumptions with immense potential. A zillion ideas can only bring up that one-million-dollar idea.

4) Cluster the ideas: Every team member should share a common understanding on the behaviour of the user. Therefore, find the common factors in the cluster of post its and then align according to the need of the product

5) No harm in having additional quadrants: Some outliers in the map can be significant for the process more than you think. You may not dare to push them out from the cluster of posts. Designers can then draw additional quadrants for more understanding. Again, after constant research, the additional quadrant will either be added or aborted.


Persona- empathy discussions don’t come to designers easily if you don’t check even the most random and rapid possibility. It is definitely a discussion that needs it’s time to eventually lead to green flags. If used well, it bridges the gap between persona and designers in the most efficient way.