For a designer, one can have the skill set and understanding of how a website should look but empathy is something that the designer needs to be mindful of through the entire design process.
Now let’s identify what is empathy. Empathy is understanding your user, finding out what the user feels and placing yourself into their shoes. It is not the same as thinking or assuming what your user may feel and trying to relieve their pain points. Instead, the designer must put themselves into the shoes of the user by doing things such as actively engaging in the task or conducting user interviews that delve into the feelings of the users.
When doing such practices to gain more empathy with the user, the designer must keep in mind why they are doing this and what they should be looking for and identifying with the practice. One must be a good listener to the users they are interviewing. Listen with your ears and take in the information but watch out for their body language and actions as well.
When interacting with them, instead of thinking for a response for what they’ve been saying or how they act instead try to find out why would they choose to react this way.
This seems like a lot of effort to put in just for a project, what are the benefits of going to such lengths?
Firstly, you get to understand why and how your users act. This allows for a much more in-depth solution for them and get rids of any blind spots a designer who has not applied empathy may face.
Secondly, you get to understand why they face any issues in the current design and identify what exactly may be causing those issues and eliminate them successfully without causing more problems.
By understanding your users, you can solve their problems. A designer would not design stairs for a wheelchair-bound man, it just does not think for the user. By applying empathy practices like trying to use a wheelchair for a day, one may understand and be able to work out a successful solution for the user to go up from one place to another. Put down your own thinking and place yourself in the shoes of the user and think for what is right for the user and not for yourself.