The buzzword ‘User Empathy’ is always at the center of any UI/UX design discussion

While empathy is certainly at the heart of user experience, a common pitfall in the industry is to use the term without actually defining or executing on its meaning.

To empathize with your users is to understand their feelings and outstanding problems they are facing, and theoretically walk a mile in their shoes. It is imperative to develop this sense of understanding before entering the design process, as it lays the groundwork for any successful project.

At D+i, our project cycle begins with an in-depth Discovery process to reveal user problems before moving on to Design, Development, and Deployment. In Discovery, we take a deep dive to define the personas and stories that makeup a given target audience base, which, in effect, offer insight into the underlying problems. Our process includes working with client stakeholders to identify their target audience, evaluating the existing client system to identify any pain points, functional issues, etc., and conducting a competitive review of other systems to identify the key differentiator of our client that sets it apart in the mind of the target user.

As we move from Discovery to Design, we utilize user insight collected to map out UX solutions for any observed user stories, eliminating any gaps in user needs, and creating a design concept that supports and communicates client key differentiation. We ensure that the design remains consistent with client business goals by collaborating with client stakeholders and collecting user feedback during design evaluation. Finally, we deliver design iterations as needed based on feedback and needs prior to launching the final product.

Trekz Mobile Application Design

The Trekz team came to us with an innovative app idea that created a space for outdoor adventurers to share their journeys with others through trail photos, GPS tracking, and stories. During Discovery, we identified the key differentiator of the Trekz app — a product that connected photos, GPS, and a first-hand account of the journey was inexistent in the market. The Trekz app directly answered a user need, and the D+i team was tasked with creating a design that was highly intuitive and shareable. In order to capture the story-telling nature of the application itself, we utilized a magazine-style design that mapped out each journey in a shareable, replicable manner. A detailed discovery process ensures a problem-first, rather than design-first, approach to design, creating a personalized experience that resonates with users.

MyRounding Mobile Healthcare Application

At its core, the MyRounding application is a simple but necessary application for healthcare professionals to document activities during daily patient rounds in real-time. During the discovery phase of this project, we identified the persona of our primary users – nurses and healthcare staff working in a fast-paced environment day in and day out. These healthcare professionals were stuck in an archaic method of paper records which was inconsistent, difficult to track, and therefore difficult to leverage to improve patient care. For the application to be successful, it needed to be intuitive, easy-to-use, and adoptable into an existing daily routine. The application offered a solution to improve patient care, save time, and increase efficiency for hospital staff, while requiring minimal adjustments to the user’s routine.

To effectively design any solution, it’s necessary to adopt the target user persona and understand their needs, problems, and current experiences.

Empathizing with users in this way lays the groundwork for the entire design cycle, and through multiple checkpoints along the way ultimately leads to intelligent and meaningful solutions optimizing user experience.