How User Empathy Inspires Great Design

At BZDesign, our favorite question to answer is, “What is the secret to great design?” Answers can vary, of course. Each of our client’s needs are unique, and every product or brand that they offer requires a spectacular strategy. In the first phase of our design solution, however, we always start by aiming for total empathy; that is, we seek to fully understand the end user’s perspective:

Who ARE these people? How did they get here? How can we help them? Why are they using this product? Why are they identifying with this brand?

This empathetic approach helps us define the core problem and see the entire picture clearly. We get in their shoes, wheelchairs, or harnesses and design a solution from their perspective.

And it works. The better we understand each end user, the more accurate and effective the finished design. It also allows us to engage with our client’s brands and products in a deeper, more genuine way — understanding, not from a lab or an office, but from users in the field.

On a recent project, BZDesign helped Gorbel Medical with their first product, the SafeGait 360 Mobility Gait & Balance Trainer.

One of our industrial designers, Koby, getting into a wheelchair with a physical therapist.

One of our industrial designers getting into a wheelchair with a physical therapist.

SafeGait industrial & brand design process:

  • Met with patients and physicians
  • Listened to their descriptions of workflow
  • Asked them to speak from the heart
  • Documented their troubles and issues
  • Discussed potential ideas and related solutions
  • Identified and ranked the most important features
  • Designed an innovative solution being used today

At BZDesign, we have found that empathy IS the industrial and brand designer’s most useful tool. Like a tool, it must be sharpened and used frequently to be effective. It can never just be a checkbox, however. To be a success, end user empathy must be a total commitment.

So strive for total understanding. Be empathetic!