Creating Empathic Design and User Validation

What is it and what does that mean? We’re here to tell you. As part of’s Forum, Senior UX Designer Lisa Smith shared a high-level overview of the empathic design process including what it is and why brands utilize it, the methodology behind it, the goals it works to achieve, and why user validation is so important. 

Defining Empathic Design

Empathic design can relate to a variety of design disciplines – product design, interior and public spaces design, landscape, and more. But when applied to digital design, empathic design is about creating that overarching user experience. It poses the following questions:

  • How do users feel when they arrive at your site?
  • Are users able to find what they’re looking for?
  • How do users feel when they have completed their visit?

The foundation of empathic design is observation: observe humanity and human interaction. The goal of it is to identify latent customer needs to create products that customers don’t know they desire. The result of is solutions offered by new technologies or by an inspired insight and perspective to traditional thinking. 

The 5 Elements of Empathic Design

Element 1: Be intentional

Every element on the screen has a purpose.

Element 2: Be truthful

No hidden agendas. If lead generation is what you are after, say so.

Element 3: Be the user

Get in your customer’s mindset and in their hearts.

Element 4: Be (functionally) beautiful

Visually and functionally beautiful beat ugly and utilitarian – all day long.

Element 5: Be simple

Clear and succinct navigational paths and conversions. 

User Validation: Creating Prototypes and Collecting Data

Edward Tufte once said: “Beautiful evidence.”

Evidence is evidence, whether words, numbers, images, diagrams, still, or moving. The intellectual task remains constant regardless of the mode of evidence: to understand and to reason about the materials at hand, and to appraise their quality, relevance, and integrity. Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence.

There are two forms of user validation – one is qualitative and the other is quantitative.

  1. Goal check your designs with user testing. Show volunteers your design and ask questions about the look and feel of it (qualitative).
  2. Build a prototype and test your design. Sample your target audience and let the data speak for itself (quantitative).

This is your opportunity to observe your visitors and customers. Get into their mindsets and their hearts to understand what they need or desire from you. 

Usability Ranking

One easy way to gain user validation is through a usability ranking of each task. After a task is designed, an end user responds to a single precisely worded question. For example, “Overall, how difficult or easy did you find this task?” This test uses a scale, typically 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest. 

scale of 1 to 10 with 1 as very easy and 10 as very difficult

See which tasks challenged users the most with task completion rate data, simple gauge of how many testers successfully finished each task (as determined by the testers themselves). is your trusted design partner. Our skilled professionals have years of experience in discovery research, visual design, testing and validation, performance and UX analysis, and much more. Contact us today to see how we can help you provide customers with the best possible user experience. 

About Author

Taylor Karg
Taylor Karg is’s Marketing Content Writer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Over the years, she’s gained experience writing for B2B brands across a variety of industries. Taylor prides herself on her ability to tell a story – and having fun while doing it. When not interviewing or writing, Taylor can be found eating tacos and watching the latest Netflix, Hulu or HBO series.

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