Product Design and User Experience (UX) have always been prominent topics of discussion across multiple online communities. Discussions on integration of UX, design and human psychology have been at the forefront of these forums. The term Product Design aims to amalgamate – UX and design elements to improve the overall user experience and the business aspect of a product. For instance, 38% of users will stop engaging if the content is presented in a poor layout (source: Adobe).
Product design has evolved over the years and is now a crucial feature in product development processes across the globe. Constant research on the subject has helped the firms create customer centric designs. Advanced techniques and simplified processes have made the products easy to discover and navigate for the end user, whether in real time or in the near future. Always remember, nearly 94% first-impressions are based on design alone and 75% of a product’s credibility is based on the overall aesthetics.
How does lack of empathy affect your business?
There is often a lack of understanding on the designer’s front which can result in loss of interest toward product design. The inability to understand the customer’s perspective can lead to a badly designed product and the client may switch over to your competitor at negligible cost.
The word empathy has been associated with UX for quite some time now but has not been practiced in the correct manner often. So, how do we define empathy?
‘Empathy can be defined as the ability to visualize the world from someone else’s perspective and understand their feelings.’
In the product design scenario, it refers to understanding and realizing what your customer really wants from your design solutions. This is possible if the designers get a clear impression about the customer’s feelings before starting work on an application. Empathizing with the target audience can help produce outstanding results while making the process more creative.
Remember! Empathy-driven designs are more than just aesthetics
Product design is not just about aesthetics; every design should tell a relevant story and should provide a resolution to the customer’s pain points. It should be easy to understand and integrate the business goals with that of the user groups. In order to achieve this, designers need to have a keen understanding of their target persona.
If users spend 15 minutes reading a piece of content, nearly two-thirds of them prefer to read from a source that has a beautiful design and a user-friendly layout (source: Adobe).
Achieving empathetic congruence with the customer works at several levels. Primarily there are three levels of empathetic congruence, namely:
- Non-Empathetic – Problematic Stage: A state where the designer is in denial about the customer’s feelings and lacks unity with them
- Empathetic – The Ideal Stage: In this state, the designer understands what the customer really wants and in is congruence with their persona
- Over-Empathetic – Confusion Stage: This is a troublesome stage, it occurs when the designer tends to focus entirely on the customer’s viewpoint without keeping the business goals in the mix
Take a pause and analyze what stage you are at, at the moment.
Found the answer? Let’s proceed further to learn how empathy can help you improve the product design process.
How to achieve The Ideal Stage from Problematic Stage or Confusion Stage: Empathy cannot be confined to users or customers alone. It is a trait that can be used in multiple ways. If you are not at the empathetic stage, you may want to follow some of suggestions given below:
- Listen, understand and consider the views of your teammates
- Select precise themes for different personas
- Get in sync with the business value of clients
- Start observing the client’s pain points and develop relevant solutions
- Initiate personalized interactions with customers
- Inculcate problem-solving abilities to designers
- Improve communication within the organization
- Develop sample wireframes for clients based on their experience
Organizational changes during The Ideal Stage: When the aforementioned goals are achieved, empathy can help you empower your employees and give them a sense of additional responsibility. As a result, you can observe the following changes in your organization:
- New and vibrant ideas
- More capable and responsible employees
- Analysis and resolution of problems from different perspectives
- Improvement in the relationship between user groups and team members
How to intertwine empathy with the product design process?
- Organize your work in interactive storyboards: One of the best ways to understand users’ interaction patterns is to use storyboarding tools. These tools help the designers visually and allow them to monitor the application flow among users. This further enhances their ability to sketch new and strong narratives for the company’s products.
- Visualize the personas as individuals and not a piece of data: Users are not programmed like an advanced AI and will use your product only if you are able to connect with their thoughts and feelings through your designs.
- Embrace the art and science of storytelling: In most cases, customers are not able to express their thoughts clearly and leave out critical information during interactions. The designers should use their empathic ability to predict the user’s story and suggest relevant solutions. Identify their pain points instinctively to create the best empathy-driven designs. Observation is the key to filling the gaps.
- Authenticate your ideas by opening interactions with customers: Empathy-driven designs can be improved further by getting validation from your clients. Be receptive to their feedback and try to analyze and address their concerns carefully.
Creating a human-centric product design is the key to creating eloquent products that can deliver a more interactive user experience without compromising on the quality.