Introduction to product design and the importance of empathy through the design process.

Product design is one of the most contemplated topics brought up when start-ups are discussed. Ample discussions about the design of user’s experience, psychology and emotions are studied immensely.

The term product design has emerged from ‘user experience design’, hence it is a long process that require attentive people as the process may be exhaustive. The procedure generally go through several phases such as, prototyping, failure, feedback and trying again. This cycle would be repeated multiple times until a viable product is created and satisfies the targeted consumers or pleases the designers.

– muditha batagoda


Continuously, new techniques and processes are being introduced to understand current and future needs of different consumers. This has become a major priority for the product development departments with the aim of creating a competitive advantage by fulfilling market needs economically.

However, numerous designers underestimate the importance of empathy in the sense of understanding feeling and emotions of consumers when a product is designed, as emphasis on looks overtake purpose of the product. Thus, leaving the end-user isolated from the process resulting in an undesirable outcome as consumers are observed for inspiration simply.

“The problem with being too focused on quantitative metrics is that they usually only tell one part of the story” -Amy Thibodeau

Empathy is defined as: a person’s capability of understanding the feeling and emotions of others. You might wonder why is it important in the design process? well in my option and with the backing up of several articles and blogs, empathy seems to sparks creativity in the mind of the designer to come up with the best possible outcome, of course after multiple attempts. How? Basically, as  designers, we should imagine yourselves in the same situation as the person that we are trying to serve.

Sympathizing with a potential user of a product or a service through an interview and understanding their actual difficulties and needs may rather be the best form of research and market analysis. We have all seen this during our gifting giving exercise in class. 

“Building an understanding about the people who use your product is a process of continual improvement.” – Amy Thibodeau

Well, it is not as easy as it may seem. The process should begin by asking ourselves three important questions, what do the people we intend to serve care about? What are their pain points? And how can we utlilise our position as designers to create a solution to their needs? Additionally, throughout the interview process, the interview should take an open minded, willing to listen approach to gain as much information as possible. The big challenge lies in stepping outside of your own calcified biases to adopt a more empathic perspective.

To end with, I will leave with something to think about. If you would one day create an invention hailed by the mass but isn’t either practical or useful, would you still feel like you have accomplished anything?


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Al Naaman

Hello there, my name is Al Naaman, commonly known as Al. I am an MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship student and here I will be posting my blogs. This is a new experience as I have never written blogs before, I hope you do enjoy. All forms of feedback are welcome :)

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