Empathic Walkthrough

Method Overview

A design method that empowers designers to connect more with the sociocultural context of the user as a means of stimulating empathy for the user and to adequately foreground the problems they might be facing.

Overview of the steps to engage in the empathic walkthrough, available from the publicly available method paper.

Getting Started

Materials: Previously defined concepts or problem spaces, Post-Its, pens, 

Participants: Two or more participants

Steps (from the publicly available academic paper)

  1. Define inputs to the walkthrough: Identification of users through previously provided personas, developed personas, or other secondary user research; a concept sketch, including brief description of functionality, if available. 
  2. Convene the walkthrough the concept: Pair two participants and encourage them to “position-take” or role-play for their defined user population.
  3. Walk through the action sequences for each task: A participant uses their knowledge of the user population to tel a “user story” about their partner’s concept, taking into consideration that some interactions might include multiple steps over different points in times and/or locations. The other participant 
  4. Record critical information: During the user story, the other participant identifies parts of the concept that were confusing or strange, that somehow seemed inappropriate to the user, or didn’t work correctly. Identify user obstacles, or critical information, about the design, the designer can then generate alternatives or additional concepts that address user concerns. Each concern is listed on a separate Post-It note.
  5. Grouping concerns: After the user story and listing of concerns is complete, the participants work together to group the concerns into five categories: form,
    function, temporal, use/user, and system.
  6. Targeted idea generation: Using the concerns grouped by categories as a point of departure, the participant(s) generate new ideas within each category using a subset of Design Heuristics cards as a potential set of strategies to create additional concepts.

This methods microsite is based off of analysis which is available in a preprint manuscript. Feel free to review our methodology and other details! We welcome your comments and feedback ! Please also use this form if you would like to suggest a method as an addition to the collection!