Research & Design

Empathy Map Canvas


In order to create products that truly work for people, we need to first empathize with them...to walk a mile in their shoes...to understand what makes them tick and what ticks them off.

The Empathy Map allows us to experience things from our customers' perspective. This exercise goes well beyond their surface needs (what they say they want) and digs into the latent needs as well as the emotional triggers that drive their behavior and impact the decisions they make.

You can build an individual Empathy Map for each person you conduct research with or you can combine multiple people into one, persona-like Empathy Map.


  • Generate a solid foundation of understanding/empathy for your customers

  • Garner alignment among your team

  • Find themes and generate insights for future ideation

  • Help your core team socialize "Voice of the Customer" outward to stakeholders

  • Reduce personal bias from your designs

  • Reveal latent needs that your customers are not aware they have


  • Works best with 2-4 People

  • Time: 1-2 hrs depending amount of data & number of maps you're creating

  • Supplies: This Miro board, an open mind, and some humility!


1. Start with the data. It could be:

  • Notes from customer interviews

  • Feedback gathered from your customer experience team

  • Observations from watching people interact with you product

  • Any way you can get first-hand input from customers

2. Add sticky notes to the board:

  • Break that data down into one thought or concept per sticky note

  • Place them on the board wherever they make the most sense. Keep in mind that some notes could easily live in more than one spot. Don't sweat it...make a quick decision and keep moving

  • Everyone should work alone until all notes are arranged on the board

3. Open discussion:

  • Review the notes and think out loud to spur deeper discussion

  • Ask questions or challenge placement

  • Identify gaps in understanding—what else do you need to learn?

What Are We Capturing?

  • CONTEXT / INFO: Any relevant information about this person or group of people.

  • WHAT DO THEY SAY? Use "direct quotes" if possible. Capture their terminology.

  • WHAT DO THEY THINK? Listen between the lines. What are they holding back?

  • WHAT DO THEY FEEL? Their emotional state. Are they anxious? Ecstatic? Annoyed?

  • WHAT DO THEY DO? Their tasks? Physical behavior? Actions they take?

  • THEIR GOALS? What do they want to accomplish? Their 'Jobs To Be Done'?

  • THEIR PAINS? What frustrates them? What is getting in their way?


I encourage you to consider how you might add to, or alter, this exercise. Your situation is likely unique. Can you start with your existing personas in the middle? Could you make this entire map centered around uncovering insights for one feature you're experimenting with? Could you add a narrative section to capture a story from each person?

The sky is the limit...have some fun and try something new!


Pete Fleming image
Pete Fleming
Product & Design—Trainer, Coach, Adviser
I’m a Philly-based product & design trainer. I head up The Product Academy, a training course for adopting a modern product mindset and building a cross-team toolkit. I’m also a Non-profit board member, startup advisor, and lover of bikes & cheese. Nice to meet you.

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