Empathic Design, definition and framework

Approaches to Design with Empathy

There are several techniques for empathy in design; however, Kouprie and Visser (2009) try to categorize them into three main categories that will be presented here.

First of all, the most popular and accepted approach is being in direct contact with users (McDonagh & Bruseberg, 2000, Mattelmäki & Battarbee, 2002, Suri, 2003). Some advocates believe preparing generative sessions can provide an opportunity for users to express their thoughts (Sanders & Dandavate, 1999, Visser et al., 2005).

The second technique is communication and it is a good approach, especially for times that designers cannot meet users directly. Several techniques such as storytelling, persona and scenario design, and roleplaying have been mentioned in empathic design research (Buchenau & Suri, 2000, Go & Carroll, 2004, Lugt & Visser, 2007).

The third category contains techniques for designers to step into the role of the user and use a role-playing approach to feel experiences. Techniques here include ‘product handling’, ‘experience prototyping’, ‘bodystorming’ and ‘informance’ (Buchenau & Suri, 2000).