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General Card #2629
End User Feedback - The Empathy Map
Updated: 5/15/2024 8:46 AM by Andrea Kwaczala
Reviewed: 10/14/2022 2:59 PM by Michael Johnson
end user feedback, client, discovery, empathy, design, product discovery, interview, market research

This activity encourages students to find a close contact in their world who would benefit from assistive technology. Grandparents, a parent with a physical condition or someone that they know living with a disability make good clients.

The idea is that the student feels close enough to reach out personally for an interview and have in depth discussions about the person's particular needs and desires in a device that would assist them with activities of daily living.

The student works over a series of interviews to determine:

  1. What the problem is and current problems with available technology
  2. Ways an engineering solution could help improve their activities of daily living
  3. Iterate design by seeking feedback and constructive criticism on design ideas

Who: This is for any class teaching students about customer discovery or product development.


In the first phase of interviews students work one-on-one with their client to develop an empathy map to better understand the client's unique needs and desires. They determine the specific pain points and the Jobs to be Done by the device they hope to design.

In the second phase of this project, students work in virtual classrooms via Zoom breakout rooms to get feedback from local nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists and people with work experience helping their clientele. They use this feedback from the professionals to refine their ideas.

If the class schedule allows, students can continue progress on the project by executing one of three things:

  1. Iterate and refine their ideas and complete a final design sketch (conclusion of this card)
  2. Develop a CAD model of the prototype and present this to client/working professionals: CAD
  3. Rapid prototype their final design using low-cost materials: Prototyping


BONUS: Also included is a participatory design activity (see .PPT below) where students worked in teams of 3-4 to practice coming up with interview questions for specific clients that were assigned to them. This activity was done in Zoom breakout rooms with a 10 minute report out at the end of the class. 

Timeline of the Module: 

  • In-Class: Have students compile interview questions, in class activity or a Google Slides participatory design activity (30 minutes)
  • Week 2: Students conduct 1st set of interviews of their client to determine basic user needs
    • Homework #1: Have students complete the empathy map and write a job story for their client
  • In-class: Have students create an engineering sketch on plain white paper, share designs with classmates and explain features/functions (30 minutes)
    • Homework #2: Share design with client and talk about improvements likes/don't like about initial design
  • In-class: Have students complete another iteration of design (15 minutes)
  • In-class: Share with clinical professionals using Zoom and breakout rooms, 1 professional per group of 4 engineers to practice discussing design ideas and getting feedback (60 minute class period)
    • Homework #3: Get feedback from client, write a reflection on feedback and their experience in the end-user focused design process with a final sketch presented in the writing sample
Learning Objectives

In this activity students will learn:

  1. To develop empathy for their clients and walk a mile in their shoes
  2. How to talk to clients and develop pain points and user-specific goals for interacting with a  new product
  3. How to develop excellent interview questions that get detailed information to define product needs
  4. To Develop pain points to better understand a design problem
  5. The jobs to be done approach to design thinking and building products based on user experience
  6. Receive and implement critical feedback to improve design iterations
Instructor Tips

Encourage students to interact with clients they are comfortable talking to.

Allowing students to design using empathy and for a client that has a disability or needs assistive technology helps them design beyond their own needs. Most students do not think much about how elderly or people living with disabilities might struggle with basic needs such as bathing, feeding, or other activities of (ADLs). By helping them learn to design with empathy, you encourage their worldliness and awareness of people outside of their own network.

Make sure students interact with their client at least 3 times to get feedback from them about what they need. They also need feedback on their design ideas about what the client likes about the design idea, what needs to be improved and how it can better meet the client's specific needs. This helps students receive and respond positively to constructive feedback.

After completion of the activity, it was really helpful to meet with professionals (we met with nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists and OT students). This was done with a group of 30 students separated into Zoom rooms with 4 students per room. 1-2 professionals per room were needed to give feedback to each project. This took a 1hr. 20 minute class period and the students received feedback from at least 6 professionals.

  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Explore a contrarian view of accepted solution
  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight
Creating Value
  • Identify unexpected opportunities to create extraordinary value
  • Persist through and learn from failure
  • Determine Design Requirements
  • Develop New Technologies
  • Analyze Solutions
  • Identify Opportunity
  • Evaluate Tech Feasibility, Customer Value, Societal Benefits & Economic Viability
  • Investigate Market
  • Test Concepts via Customer Engagement
  • Develop Partnerships & Build Team
  • Communicate Societal Benefits
  • Validate Market Interest
Categories & Tags
  • Campus & Outreach
  • Classroom & Courses
  • EUFD 2020
  • Health Sciences & Medical
  • Technical Communications

User-centered design and empathy mapping: https://builtin.com/product/empathy-mapping

Clay Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma. Disruptive innovation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpkoCZ4vBSI

Bob Moesta, Rick Pedi, “Jobs To Be Done — UX Knowledge Base Sketch #82” Source: https://uxknowledgebase.com/jobs-to-be-done-d77e9e0d725c?gi=c5d8de678bf5

Product Frameworks, https://www.product-frameworks.com/Jobs-To-Be-Done.html

Vassilena Valchanova, “The Ultimate Guide: Jobs to be Done Interviews for Customer Development, with Templates,” Source: https://valchanova.me/customer-development-jobs-to-be-done/

Alan Klement, “Jobs to be Done.” Oct. 9, 2016. Source: https://jtbd.info/2-what-is-jobs-to-be-done-jtbd-796b82081cca

The following are some resources to help you get started implementing design thinking and empathy maps in your classroom. It includes some lecture content, assignments for your students and examples of the work we did when it was done in my Prosthetic and Orthotic Design class.
Title Type Ext Date Size Download All Downloads
Empathy Map.pptx Activity / Handout .pptx 6/22/2021 45.1 KB 541
Jobs to be Done Framework.pptx Presentation .pptx 6/22/2021 8.5 MB 595
User-Centered Design with Interviews.pdf Activity / Handout .pdf 6/22/2021 202.8 KB 553
User-Centered Design Interactive Workshop.pptx Presentation .pptx 6/22/2021 22.8 MB 574
Student Sample - Empathy Map.pdf Student Artifact / Example .pdf 6/22/2021 1.5 MB 561