In my journey of over 2 decades of working across the globe and in diverse areas of businesses addressing Human Centered Design, User Experience, Usability and pure research, one thing that struck a strong chord is – EMPATHY!

The journey of ‘EMPATHY’ is both inwards and outwards, inwards within your group, teams and organizations; outwards, towards your customers and their end users.
Inwards, so that being empathetic towards each other’s skills, you get to play your part where it is necessary, rather than ‘know-it-all’ which often fails, that’s why we have a team, right :)-

It is important to sensitize and be sensitive towards each other in the team.
In any project, all have a singular focus to make something successful and more usable, either new or towards improving the old, for which we need differential UX, research, design, production & development expertise to make that happen- Empathy inwards empowers and makes the journey fun too!

Outwards, the user is the ruler (king or queen), being empathetic towards the test participant, the test metrics and attention to every little detail, go a long way in a successful outcome. Empathy is at a role play from the sketch, to the workflows of a product or system, to the research protocols, prototypes, design, packaging, installation, buying experiences, support, and so on.

If your test script requires putting your end user to daunting preparatory tasks before actually testing or getting any feedback, you are most likely preparing to fail. E.g. a test required a 60+ year old participant to open a vacuum packed bottle with bare hands while reading a thick mini manual with very tiny text (and without glasses), all the tests results were drastic and obviously so!

In a test instance recently, my colleagues smeared the spectacle glasses with wax to blur the vision and test an app for older people who were required to use the app wearing glasses. In yet another research for a public touch-phone kiosk experience usability testing, the team actually tested the MVP prototype in extreme cold and high windchill conditions to go through the experience of using the device with and without gloves – to know what it be like to go though the touch experience in such weather and complete the tasks. It is important to step out of the offices and meeting rooms and get into the environment of the users, the actual roles and go through the experience journey of your users – that’s empathy too!
All along the journey of all innovations, it is about designing something to solve a particular problem, without empathy that’s almost going to be a ‘no-go’ business model- Empathy Empowers!