Empathy Maps

What is an Empathy Map?

An Empathy Map, also known as a Persona Empathy Map, is a visual representation that captures the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of a persona in a specific situation. Typically, this scenario is an extreme case that highlights any pain points that the product team may have overlooked.

The Empathy Map includes a central image of the persona, surrounded by segments depicting their actions, feelings, and thoughts during the given scenario. It is often paired with a Journey Map to provide deeper insight into the persona’s behaviour and establish an emotional connection between the designers and the persona.

A man checking his phone while standing next to his bike.

What do you need to create an Empathy Map?


  • 1 hour for preparation
  • 1 hour to create the Empathy Map


  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • Camera

How do you create an Empathy Map?

A group of people at a table sketching and taking notes.

Step 1: Prepare for Empathy Map creation

You must first have User Scenarios and Personas for your product. It is important to focus on the Primary Persona as this method emphasizes fringe cases that may increase the scope of your product if you start using secondary personas too.

Step 2: Organize a meeting

Invite product team members and stakeholders to a meeting and split them into groups of 3 or 4 people.

Step 3: Create Empathy Map template

Each group should draw a stick figure of their assigned persona on the board and label five sections around it with “See,” “Hear,” “Think,” “Feel,” and “Do.” There are also many templates online that you can download and print out ahead of time if that’s easier.

Step 4: Assign User Scenarios

Provide each group with a different user scenario.

Step 5: Brainstorm experiences of the personas

Give the groups 30 minutes to brainstorm the persona’s sensory input, thoughts, feelings, and actions during the scenario. They should record their findings in the appropriate sections on the whiteboard.

Step 6: Monitor progress

As they work, walk around the room and ask for insights that will inform the design process about the primary persona.

Step 7: Present findings

Ask each group to present their Empathy Map findings.

Step 8: Document Empathy Maps

Lastly, photograph each Empathy Map for future reference.

Tips for a great Empathy Map

  • Feel free to invite people from other departments too as this will get them engaged in the process.
  • Avoid creating User Scenarios that are too extreme and unrealistic.
  • If you plan to write User Scenarios during the same session, ensure that the Empathy Maps whiteboards are kept visible and accessible for easy reference.
A woman taking notes while video chatting to another woman.