What is Emphatic Design?

What is Emphatic Design?

Stuart Holmes

The emotional ability to understand and relate to the feelings of another person is known as empathy. We tend to show it to our loved ones at times of need. It allows us to feel closer to another person and is often used to build a stronger connection between two people. However, what if we were to tell you that you can use empathy to improve the relationship you have with your consumers?

Emphatic design can be used to create an emotional connection between the product and consumer. It achieves this by showcasing a deeper understanding of the user experience. Emphatic design is a marketing strategy that focuses on putting the needs of the consumer first. Below, we take a closer look at the benefits of emphatic design and the process of utilising this strategy to further improve our own marketing efforts:

Why use Emphatic Design?

Emphatic design helps companies to better engage with their consumers on a more personal level. The relationship between consumer and product is heightened, providing a more positive user experience. In addition to this, taking time to carry out proper research in customer behaviour and learning how to incorporate this data, can lead to the creation of new ideas, products and unique solutions.

Consumer observation

Understanding the needs and feelings of your consumer is vital. Emphatic design aims to improve the user’s experience by providing a product that fulfils a certain need or desire. The first step towards perfecting emphatic design, is to observe consumer behaviour. Focus on behavioural aspects such as methods, approaches and problems. Find out why certain behaviours exist and analyse this data. Studying the habits and behaviours of your consumers will help you to better understand and emphasise with their problems, resulting in a more profitable product that recognises the needs of its consumer.

Providing the solution

Now that you have identified the problem, you must come up with the perfect solution. Asking questions to prompt creative and original responses is a great way to drive ideas. For example, if you reach a dead end, ask yourself, “What if?”. Don’t be afraid to journey down the lesser travelled path…you just might come across something truly extraordinary!

Developing Prototypes

Once you have brainstormed your ideas, you can move on to the development process. This usually involves creating prototypes that offer different solutions. The purpose of this process is to test their effectiveness and to find ways to improve the initial product design etc. This is necessary in emphatic design because it allows you to test your solutions on real consumers.


Without emphatic design, there is an obvious gap that separates the designer from the end consumer. Emphatic design closes this gap and brings both parties closer together. Remember that your consumers are human, just like you. They have feelings, emotions and certain needs that your product can help them with. Incorporating empathy into the design process will improve your product, your relationship with your consumers and will play a key role towards generating a greater profit.