How to Design with Empathy
Whether you’re a business owner planning out a new workspace for your employees, a homeowner plotting a renovation project for your family or even a fellow designer, empathy should always be at the heart of each project. This week we’re taking a look at how we personally design with empathy with each of our clients and how you can too. It comes down to these four basic steps…
Step 1: Ask the client for their vision
Let’s get real; THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about your client. Once the project is “done”, you are likely out of there, never to look upon your creation again. But, your client is literally going to be there every day (say, if you’re designing their home). This one-off project for you means an immense amount to them! So, ask them what their vision is, and not just that, but go beyond the surface level questioning. Get to really know their story and what they want their life to look and feel. Being able to hold a shared vision is key to creating desired results.
Step 2: Actively listen
This means that while the client is talking and explaining their vision, you’re not just waiting for them to stop talking so that you can share the plan of what you actually want to do. Active listening makes your client feel seen, heard, and understood. Which builds trust and hopefully puts them at ease a bit and even has them coming back to you for future projects.
Step 3: Process the information you have been given
This may mean that you have to temporarily steer away from your traditional approach. Humans are not a carbon copy of one another, so they don’t deserve a carbon copy approach. If this conversation has given you insight, it’s perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged, to say, “thank you so much for sharing your insight and vision; I’m going to take some time to reflect on how I can best help you”. Trust us; it will make them feel like you actually care, as you should.
Step 4: Respond with innovation and intention
This is your chance to wow them and proves that you genuinely respect their voice in this process. Use all of your inner creative goo to come up with something unique and specific to them. It may have touches of things you have created before, but if it’s the right thing for them, they will know that you are truly an empathetic designer.
Would you say you design with empathy at the forefront of all that you do?