According to Stefan Mumaw of First Person, the goal of the designer isn't to communicate, “it's to insight an action.”
Stefan went on to say that, “Information doesn't insight action, that only emotion does. So, the designer isn’t really a communicators but rather an empath. An empath is someone who understands the emotions of somebody so well that they feel it them themselves. And if you think about it as a goal, from a design standpoint, that's really what a designer should attempt to achieve.”
Larisa Berger of Mule Design says that, “Empathy is about being in someone else’s shoes, having a walk around in them to get a sense of the world from their point of view.”
“It involves understanding an audience so well that the designer knows what moves them, what will insight action, that's really the primary purpose of a designer”, continues Stefan.
“It's to create an emotional connection with an audience member. To understand the human condition in such a way that the designer can translate information into emotion, and insight an action out of that, and that purpose is incredibly powerful. ”
For designing with emotion, Stefan gave a three step approach to the interested designer:
According to Stefan, nos. 1 and 3 are quite easy to do, but no.3, immersion or empathy isn’t.
Lisa explains that empathy it is complicated— “much of it has little to do with our conscious minds. So, whether or not we’re able to express empathy for someone depends on our innate, lizard brain perceptions of others as either belonging to the same group we belong to (us) or people belonging to an outgroup (them)”.
Empathy has arrived on the tech scene as a new skill that every start-up and design team needs to get ahead. Empathy can solve design problems and diffuse tense team interactions. Let’s take anexample:
“It seems like we’ve really built this system in the best way we can, but people are not figuring it out.”
“Empathize with the user!” would be the solution.
But Larisa also argues that bad design is usually the result of poor collaboration and not due to an empathy deficit in the design team at all.
So, will empathy make you a better designer? Is that all this design stuff is really about?
The conclusion is that while Stefan’s view of empathy is important, collaboration too is a critical factor since it depends on you valuing other people’s relevant opinions to find a shared goal for guiding the work. Both valuing your audience’s point of view and being able to collaborate with your team are critical to design work. In short, researching and understanding constraints and learning how to collaborate are in fact real things you can do to become a better designer. Empathy is the icing on the cake and helps you understand what is at stake.