How to Develop Your Empathy to Become a Better UX Designer


Is “empathy” a term you frequently hear at work? Is it used too frequently in the design industry and what does that signify, do you know? Would it be beneficial to you to learn how to develop your empathy while also becoming a better designer?

The functionality and usability of the interface are given top attention by designers when building websites or mobile applications, and that is unquestionably heading on the correct path. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked that desirability is one of the essential prerequisites for a good user experience. People are formed of sentiments, intuition, emotions, and memories in addition to intellect and action. To create user-friendly products, designers must keep this in mind.

Of course, there are dangers in emotional design. Your intended favorable user experience will change into a rage-inspiring catastrophe if emotional involvement undermines the functionality, dependability, or usefulness of an interface. It’s not always possible to win over a disgruntled consumer with a friendly wager.

We define beauty according to how we see ourselves. The human mind is incredibly proficient at scanning things and information to decipher meaning from non-verbal cues. Almost everything we view has traces of who we are, and we like that. As you might guess, this capacity to spot patterns in so much noise is a crucial skill we employ to navigate life, and it has a significant impact on how we create.

Too frequently, people mistakenly think of design as the opulent icing on a user interface. We communicate every feeling a person can feel via their personality. We are drawn to some people and turned away from others by a mysterious force known as personality. In design, personality may be a potent tool since it has a significant impact on how we make decisions.

The main aim of emotional design is to improve communication between people. When we’re performing our jobs successfully, personality takes center stage rather than the computer. We must take into account how we communicate with one another in everyday life to accomplish this aim. As website and application users, we are aware that their attention spans are short and they shift quickly through content. An interface that includes a surprise can cause the brain to reevaluate the situation, disrupting a behavior pattern.

Seeing through another person’s eyes, hearing through another person’s ears, and feeling through another person’s heart are three characteristics of empathy.

It enables comprehension of other people’s ideas, beliefs, and values as well as the importance of their circumstances to them and the emotions that go along with them (Rogers, 1951).

The term empatheia, which means “physical affection or passion,” is where the English word empathy first appeared. Understanding and being able to share other people’s feelings is called empathy.

Four perspectives exist on empathy:

  1. Affective Empathy

The ability to feel the emotions of others. Emotional empathy is a high level of awareness of another person’s feelings. Even when they are witnessing another person hurting themselves, they do feel their pain, although they do not feel it physically.

Designers of websites helping divorcing spouses would be excellent examples. An experienced designer will likely feel a great deal of affective empathy if they have experienced a divorce.

2. Cognitive Empathy

To do this, one must be able to analyze someone’s ideas and feelings without being emotionally affected. Cognitive empathy is a conscious form of what is often referred to as “perspective-taking.” By doing this, you may place yourself in another person’s situation but avoid experiencing their feelings. More by mind than sensation, this kind of empathy.

3. Compassionate empathy / Empathic concern

Commonly, empathy and empathic concern are conflated. The same set of feelings must be felt to respond to another person’s perceived emotional condition as empathy. Favorable esteem for the other person is required for compassionate empathy or empathic care, which goes beyond just empathizing.

4. Emotional Self-Regulation

The controls any empathy that a person may possess. To keep their personal lives and professional lives distinct, doctors and nurses must have good emotional self-regulation skills.

Researchers have long thought that mirror neurons might be involved in some aspects of empathy. As when we act ourselves, these neurons fire just as if we viewed someone else performing it in the same way we would.

Empathy enables us to forge trusting relationships, provides us with perceptions of what others may be experiencing or thinking, aids in our understanding of how or why others are responding to circumstances, hones our “people savvy,” and guides our actions. Because it enables us to comprehend another person’s emotions and respond accordingly, empathy is crucial. Empathy allows us to comprehend one another’s experiences, which increases our propensity to assist one another.

Empathic design: its importance

  1. Empathy need not just be reserved for users.

It applies to our coworkers, clients, and suppliers. It may apply to the materials we use to design with as well as to ourselves.

  1. Empathy is the foundation of all creative endeavors.

Instead of viewing someone else as a problem that needs to be fixed, we listen to them when we make an effort to understand them.

  1. You may understand yourself better through empathizing.

To understand people. It enhances your knowledge of oneself. You can better understand what you’re thinking if you try to write correctly for other people. You can understand what you’re attempting to express more clearly after teaching someone.

  1. It’s reciprocal to empathize.

It is inherently reciprocal to want to understand another person when you are creative. It won’t take you long to see that empathy involves both giving and receiving once you get over the notion that “understanding” is the only need for doing so. Ultimately, giving and receiving are the same. It’s just a loop, a full circle loop.

How to include compassion into your design work

We can add more empathy to our working day in several different ways, like the empathy for users.

  • Design as though you’re a newbie
  • Using the Five Whys

A method of repetitive interrogation for identifying the causes and implications of a certain issue is known as the five whys, or simply “5 whys.” In order to identify the underlying source of a fault or problem, the core tenet of the technique is to ask “Why?” five times. The fifth why should be addressed by providing information about the problem’s underlying causes.

  • Investigate with kindness and attention.
  • When doing user-based research, use videos, and photos.
  • Personas that are affirming
  • Participate in user interaction and share your experiences with other designers.

Bodystorming is a method where a researcher experiences a situation physically to produce ideas. Bodystorming, a simulation and role-playing combination that occurs in a physical location, encourages empathy for the users.

  • Embed maps of empathy
  • Be sure to include user accessibility in all of your design work.
  • Consider the usage context (where and when people use your product)

As designers, we have to ensure that a product is usable, accessible, and pleasurable to use. Although we are aware that empathy is a virtue, we don’t often use it or know much about it. Being conscious of it and making an effort to improve it is the greatest approach to developing as a designer.

I think you have a better chance of bringing about significant change when you have compassionate understanding. While compassion elicits the same feelings as empathy, it also makes you more motivated to act.