Week 6: Mapping Empathy

In this week’s session, we developed the following based on our tutor, Martin:

• 1 User Persona
• Conduct User Interview & User Task: Order food on Apache website
• Identify pain points and issues with site from user interview / task
• User Stories based on Persona
• Create Empathy Map based on Persona
• Create a User survey as a group to send out to at least 10 – 20 Users

Based on a short description Martin gave of himself, I created a User Persona to work off, for the interview and finally the Empathy Map:

User Persona “Martin” developed, based on our tutor.
Click here to enlarge.

Due to Covid19 restrictions, all of our classes have been taught remotely via Microsoft Teams to this point. This creates a particularly challenging context for us to conduct a User Interview and observe a User Task being fulfilled. However, UX designers precisely have to adapt to the digital and social landscape of consumers and we did the best that we could, given the circumstances. Here were some of the questions that we asked, and our User’s answers:

  1. QN: What is your main priority for a good online food ordering experience? ANS: Speed (4 clicks) and efficiency.
  2. QN: Do you prefer pictures of food or descriptions? ANS: Pictures.
  3. QN: What are the challenges you have experienced in ordering food for your children? ANS: Nutrition and something that they would like. I would like suggestion and directive nutritional information on the menu.
  4. QN: Do you find the branding of the company on delivery drivers / vehicles important? ANS: Yes, very much so as it brings the User Experience and Brand Recognition, out of the digital process and in to the real world.
  5. QN: Do you prefer to have more or less choices? ANS: I prefer to have less choices, narrowed down by my past orders and choices (favourites). I usually re-order the same thing.
  6. QN: When do you usually order food online? ANS: Friday – Weekends.
  7. QN: Do you worry about saving your payment method on the website? ANS: Not really. I expect my payment details and personal information to be securely saved.
  8. QN: Are there any competitor brands that you like and currently use? ANS: Domino’s and local area takeaways that I can easily pick-up for Collection.
  9. QN: How do you access the takeaway restaurant? ANS: Through Google browser as I do not like the subscription with takeaway apps such as JustEat.
  10. QN: Do you like pop-ups and suggestion? ANS: Depends- I like deals and menu suggestions based on my preferences but I do not like pop-ups that I do not find relevant (ie. repeated COVID19 warnings).

Mistakenly, I did not record this interview in full and instead started to fill out the Empathy Map in its 4 sections of Say, Think, Do & Feel, based on Martin’s answers. I should have instead recorded the interview in full for better reference and research basis, and focused on the questions and answers during the interview. In any case, here were my Empathy Map notes based on Martin’s answers, which I later re-interpreted:

Draft Empathy map filled out while taking notes from the interview.

Lastly, Martin ran through with us the User Task of ordering food on a competitor brand site, Apache. Here were the notes that I took down of his process, noting pain points and issues:

Notes taken from User Task: Order pizza from Apache Pizza website

The key issues I found in Martin using the Apache website are the following:

  1. Struggled to look for ordering page. (3-5min)
  2. Images lacking for some Make-Your-Own toppings: Sauces
  3. No progress bar in ordering process.
  4. No clear indication of how much is being spent (live price).
  5. Great difficulty checking out as guest as unable to input address / delivery details (almost Abandonment Point).

I worded several User Stories based on Martin, in the following given Format

“As a <actor> I would <action> so that <achievement>.”

• “As a busy parent on a Friday, I would like to order a meal quick and conveniently so that I do not have to worry about meals for the family.”
• “As a health conscious parent, I would like to be given healthy options and nutritional information on the menu so that I can give my children a balanced diet.”
• “As a frequent customer of the same brand, I would to be given loyalty discounts so that I feel appreciated and incentivised to buy from the same place.”
• “As a person who knows what I like, I would like to be given the option to re-order my favourite menu items quickly, so that I do not have to scroll through the whole menu.”
• “As a visual person, I would like to see representational images of menu items so that I know what I am ordering.”

From all the information that I have now gathered from one User, I have created an empathy map based on Martin:

Click here to enlarge.

Empathy Mapping: “Visualising user attitudes and behaviours in an empathy map helps UX teams align on a deep understanding of end users. The mapping process also reveals any holes in existing user data.” (Gibbons, Empathy Mapping: The First Step in Design Thinking, 2018. Source: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/empathy-mapping/)

In concluding my learnings of creating an Empathy Map, User Persona and participating in conducting a User Interview, I found the process a very nuanced and insightful one as you are able to observe in detail, one particular User’s experience, his/her concerns, needs and frustrations. Great insight into how people in the real world use a digital product can be extracted from this process. It is important in conducting a User interview that the UX Researcher conducts the process with as little bias as possible and questions should be worded in a non-directive way. It is also good to be as personable as possible even when everything is being done remotely now (2020). On this point, I can improve and be better prepared, by digitally recording the interview session so that I can focus on the questions, answers and body language of the interviewee, instead of taking written notes.

I do question however if the process of focusing on one person to such an extent is limiting in research scope. I feel that while useful, creating a User Persona can have its shortcomings as well and not too much time of the entire research should be spent on creating an individual persona. Instead, there should be a balance of Quantitative and Qualitative research so as not to make the research too niche. As my client brief targets more than one consumer group, I should always bear in mind the bigger picture and where possible, cast a bigger net for User research which we will do next in a User Survey. When UX Research is done by a well-resourced team, a Multiple-User Empathy Map can be created instead. As outlined by Susan Gibbons in the same article (Empathy Mapping: The First Step in Design Thinking. Source: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/empathy-mapping/):

  • Aggregated empathy maps represent a user segment, rather than one particular user. They are usually created by combining multiple individual empathy maps from users who exhibit similar behaviors and can be grouped into one segment. The aggregated empathy map synthesizes themes seen throughout that user group and can be a first step in the creation of personas. (However, empathy maps are not a replacement for personas. But they can be one way to visualize what we know about a persona in an organized, empathetic way.)
  • Aggregated empathy maps can also become ways to summarize other qualitative data like surveys and field studies. For example, an empathy map can be used to communicate a persona, instead of the traditional ‘business card’ approach. As more research is gathered about that persona, you can circle back to the empathy map and add new insights or remove those that have changed or been invalidated.

Lastly, as a group we came up with several questions for a User Survey, results of which will be processed and analysed in my next post: