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Time to run:
30 min

Empathy map canvas template

Build empathy and design with your users' needs in mind

Courtesy of our friends at

Use the empathy map canvas template to develop robust personas and inform decisions that improve the user experience. Get teams on the same page and create a visual representation of a customer’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and observations.

Empathy maps serve as a foundation for outstanding user experiences and new products that focus on providing the experience customers want rather than forcing design teams to rely on guesswork and assumptions. 

The empathy map template helps you:

  • Build deep empathy for the user and their experience
  • Create a user persona collaboratively with stakeholders in real-time
  • Understand user needs and wants using design thinking methods
  • Improve decision-making in the design process

How to use the empathy map canvas template

While most empathy maps are divided into four quadrants, this empathy map canvas template uses more segments, which are typically defined by questions that teams work to answer one by one to complete the map.

1. Identify your primary user or customer and what motivates them

Who is the the person you want to understand and empathize with? Start outlining the basics of the persona so your team has information to start building upon.

2. Record what customers/users are thinking and feeling

First, go over pain points. What are their fears, frustrations and anxieties? If your team comes up empty with ideas, try conducting user interviews to understand user attitudes and thought processes.

Once you have identified what their pains are, move into gains. What are their wants, needs, hopes and dreams? Be sure to log any other thoughts and feelings that might influence user behavior.

3. Review what users are saying and doing

Answers to this question should come from interviews with customers, survey responses, or any other channel that provides direct feedback from customers. Try to include direct quotes from users in this section, such as, “I love this product; it saves me so much time every week.”

Be sure to include data about how the end user interacts with the platform or brand, including things like idle time, contacting support, or changing subscription plans. These objective metrics can help you measure and track improvements over time.

4. What are users seeing and hearing?

To answer these questions, think about the persona’s environment and the outside influences that surround them, including friends, colleagues, and media outlets. For example, their friends might discuss products they use at work or read an industry publication that ranks best-in-class productivity tools.

Don't forget other more subtle influences, like if they see a colleague in the office with a product that appears to be helping improve productivity.

It’s also important to ask what a customer stands to gain from using the product. Determine what pain points it solves by asking questions like, “What obstacles are customers trying to overcome?” or “How do users measure success/effectiveness?”

5. Define next steps

Analyze your findings and start outlining what changes need to be made in order to improve the customer experience.

Tips for creating empathy maps

  • Create multiple personas: User bases are varied, consisting of many individuals who might have different reasons for using the platform. Relying on a single persona won’t provide an accurate picture of who the average users are or what they need.
  • Customize the template outline to support your team: This template allows the board’s creator to edit the outline to provide clear and tailored instructions that help team members brainstorm and answer key questions.
  • Use a photo to help visualize the user: Including a visual representation for your persona will help your team better brainstorm how the user feels, thinks, and acts. Choose a stock image that best represents your customer or user persona.
  • Pair your empathy map canvas with a customer journey map: Now that you’ve conducted this user research with your team, put it into action by mapping out the customer journey to understand more pain points they experience throughout the process.

How to create a Empathy map canvas template

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Empathy map canvas template frequently asked questions

What is an empathy map canvas?

What teams benefit from empathy maps?

How is an empathy map canvas different from an empathy map?

Why should you create an empathy map?


Template by XPLANE


XPLANE is a design consultancy focused on aligning and engaging large organizations to accelerate results. Founded by Dave Gray, they're a team of illustrators, authors, MBAs, graphic designers, journalists, and consultants united by the passion for solving business's most complex problems.

*The Design Ops Canvas and above explanation provided courtesy of (from the creators of XPLANE).

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