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Empathy Map Canvas Template

Design with your users' needs in mind

Courtesy of our friends at

An empathy map serves as a foundation for outstanding user experiences, which focus on providing the experience customers want rather than forcing design teams to rely on guesswork. 

Empathy map canvases help identify exactly what it is that users are looking for so brands can deliver. They can be particularly beneficial for getting teams on the same page about who users are and what they want from the brand.

What is an empathy map canvas?

An empathy map canvas is a more in-depth version of the original empathy map, which helps identify and describe the user’s needs and pain points. And this is valuable information for improving the user experience. 

Teams rely on user insights to map out what is important to their target audience, what influences them, and how they present themselves. This information is then used to create personas that help teams visualize users and empathize with them as individuals, rather than just as a vague marketing demographic or account number.

Who uses an empathy map canvas?

Agile teams in a variety of departments use empathy map canvases to better understand how to meet their customers’ needs.

Design teams use them to help understand the various reasons why a user might interact with the product so they can design a user-friendly experience.

Sales teams use them to learn who customers are at an individual level so they can help them invest in a product that suits their needs, rather than leading with a sales pitch that might be off-putting or not appropriately tailored to customers.

Why use an empathy map canvas?

An empathy map canvas helps brands provide a better experience for users by helping teams understand the perspectives and mindset of their customers. Using a template to create an empathy map canvas reduces the preparation time and standardizes the process so you create empathy map canvases of similar quality.

To identify user needs and enhance the overall experience

Good canvases rely on insights from actual users, which help provide an accurate picture of how they feel about their experience with the product. This provides insight into which features are accessed the most often and how they are used. And this knowledge empowers teams to make the improvements that most benefit the user and increase the product’s value.

To learn what motivates users to buy

Revenue-driven design teams use an empathy map canvas to learn what factors most impact a user’s decision to pay for the product or service. This can be particularly useful when teams want to push a new subscription plan and need to understand which features might prompt users to upgrade.

Understanding what users find the most valuable about the product can also help improve marketing efforts by making it easier to identify why users think it is worth the price.

How to create an empathy map canvas

Empathy maps are divided into segments, which are typically defined by questions that teams work to answer one by one to complete the map. Using MURAL’s template allows you to add color-coded sticky notes to help categorize answers visually.

What do users say and do?

Answers to this question should come from interviews with customers, survey responses, or any other channel that provides direct feedback from customers. Try to include direct quotes from users in this section, such as, “I love this product; it saves me so much time every week.”

Be sure to include data about how users interact with the platform or brand, including things like idle time, contacting support, or changing subscription plans. These objective metrics can help you measure and track improvements over time.

What do users think and feel?

Brainstorm and identify user goals for the product. Consider any fears that might present a hurdle to the sales team, like if they worry about difficult-to-navigate interfaces that slow them down or make their job impossible. Understanding these nuances helps teams identify which features that users prioritize, which allows them to ensure what they offer aligns with users’ needs.

What do users see and hear?

To answer these questions, think about the persona’s environment and the outside influences that surround them, including friends, colleagues, and media outlets. For example, their friends might discuss products they use at work or read an industry publication that ranks best-in-class productivity tools.

Don't forget other more subtle influences, like if they see a colleague in the office with a product that appears to be helping improve productivity.

It’s also important to ask what a customer stands to gain from using the product. Determine what pain points it solves by asking questions like, “What obstacles are customers trying to overcome?” or “How do users measure success/effectiveness?”

How to use the empathy map canvas template

The empathy map canvas template provides an easy way for teams to visualize and better understand their target users. MURAL’s customizable template provides features that allow you to maximize the map’s effectiveness by tailoring it to your user base.

1. Create multiple personas

User bases are varied, consisting of many individuals who might have different reasons for using the platform. Relying on a single persona won’t provide an accurate picture of who the average users are or what they need. MURAL allows you to create your own templates and easily duplicate them, which means you can create as many customized personas as you want. The more personas your team creates, the better picture they’ll have of what the user base looks like.

2. Use a photo to help visualize the user

The center of the empathy map canvas template offers a space for a photo to represent the user persona, which helps team members identify with the user as an actual person. And MURAL helps fill this space by offering a variety of portrait options on its “image” tab, which allows users to search for the perfect photo to represent the user and bring the persona to life.

3. Edit instructions to better support your team

This template allows the board’s creator to edit the outline to provide clear and tailored instructions that help team members brainstorm and answer key questions. For example, instructions might include guidance like, “List industry publications that have mentioned our brand,” or prompts like, “What do users think about the platform’s interface?”

How to create a Empathy Map Canvas Template

Empathy Map Canvas Template Frequently Asked Questions

How is an empathy map canvas different from an empathy map?

What are the primary elements of an empathy map canvas vs. a basic empathy map?

XPLANE

Template by XPLANE

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XPLANE is a design consultancy focused on aligning and engaging large organizations to accelerate results. Founded by Dave Gray, they're a team of illustrators, authors, MBAs, graphic designers, journalists, and consultants united by the passion for solving business's most complex problems.

*The Design Ops Canvas and above explanation provided courtesy of Gamestorming.com (from the creators of XPLANE).