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Why empathy is central to good UI and UX

2 mins read

UI and UX design have something in common – they’re both key elements of value-driven design. The most successful marketing materials are produced when designers think about their target audience and brand goals, and centre the design message around them.

Empathy is key to successful messaging because it allows you to understand your customer and design with them in mind.

What is UI design?

User interface (UI) design is the look and feel of a product from the customer’s viewpoint. It typically applies to digital products (for example, websites and apps) and is about the visual touchpoints that enable the user to interact with them. UI designers may be responsible for:

  • colour palettes
  • typography
  • animations
  • buttons
  • imagery

What is UX design?

User experience (UX) design is about how the end user interacts with the company through its products or services. It can apply to physical and digital products.

UX designers may be in charge of:

  • structural design
  • creating solutions to user issues

Defining empathy

Empathy means fully understanding how another person is feeling in a particular situation or context. In order to be fully empathetic, you have to comprehend what a person is going through.

In the case of UI and UX design, you need to identify with your target audience and understand their experiences of navigating your website.

Why you need empathy

Empathy is central to UI and UX design – you need to fully appreciate the user’s point of view to create a positive experience. If you don’t understand the person using your website, how can you possibly create functionality that meets their expectations? Having a solid foundation of knowledge about the end user goes hand in hand with understanding your customer. You can acquire this knowledge by applying empathy.

How to be an empathetic designer

These three tips can help you become a more empathetic designer who creates enjoyable online experiences.

1. Be a good listener

Most people know how to listen, but being a good listener is another ball game. To fully understand your target audience, you need to employ active listening techniques, such as asking questions and repeating their answers back to them to check you’ve fully understood what they need.

2. Improve your observational skills

Your target audience don’t always know how to describe what they want – in fact, they may not be 100% sure what it is they want! You can dig a little deeper by observing their body language, non-verbal expressions and environment. For example, if they say yes to your idea, but don’t sound that enthusiastic, it could be that they’re just being polite. It’s your job to pick up on these cues and adapt accordingly.

3. Be curious

Don’t just observe what your user is doing (for example, in a user test), ask yourself why they are doing it.

Adopting a curious approach will enable you to uncover more about your users’ motivations and needs, leading to a design that will resonate with them.

If you’re interested in learning more about how empathetic UI/UX design can benefit your business, get in touch – we’d love to support you with your business goals.

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Why empathy is central to good UI and UX

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