'In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity," said Albert Einstein, and the world gives us plenty of opportunities. Recently, a very annoying situation on a flight to Europe gave me the opportunity to think about the rising importance of empathic design. Dealing successfully with your customers' annoyances requires adopting what we at my company call the "empathic point of view" (empathic POV).
What is the empathic POV? Empathy is understanding and sharing the feelings of another. When you take the empathic POV, you try to understand and experience things as users of your products and services do. You want to put yourself into your customers' shoes and do what they do, see what they see, and feel what they feel. Doing this lets you uncover bugs and scenarios that "suck".
It's even more important to take the empathic POV when designing for those with needs different from your own, be they disabled, elderly, vision-impaired, illiterate, foreign, very tall or obese.
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