Design Thinking methods @DESIGN-IT : (11) Empathy tools

by Emma-Katharina David on 07 Sep 2018

And here we are with our penultimate design thinking method in our 12 weeks series. This week is all about “Empathy tools”. It is a term used to describe ​physical objects​ and ​cognitive or social techniques​ that provide designers with a feeling and deeper understanding of users with ​various abilities.


Goal: With ​inclusive design​ it is possible to gain more empathy and understand better other user’s capabilities, by experiencing a product in a way that an end user with certain disabilities would. By using different tools to experience what end users with special conditions feel when usign the app, team members will gain “informed intuition“.


Task: There is no predefinite way of testing out this method. Team members have to think about abilities and special conditions end users who will use the app could have and then put these to test. These could be blindness or just bad eye sight, shaking hands but also technical difficulties like slow software, not enough IT knowledge etc.  In the end they should see how user friendly the app is and what can be changed.


Read below about our experience.


Team members liked the method’s insightful and fun way to experience an app and they came up with different interesting solutions. They started to be aware of some problems end users might encounter.


In general though the think that it makes more sense for more matured apps. It is like a checkup step to ensure the full usability of the app.


“It is a method for more advanced / matured projects that aim to improve more and more. At the beginning of the project you often aim for little effort and big effect.”



They expressed their thought on the fact that in general it coul be difficult to know all the problems end users might experience with an app. Also that prior researching and the availability of user data which might not always be available was raised as a concern during the feedback session.

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