Desginers are told to develope empathy so they can identify the needs, pains and opportunities of the user for developing a solution. There are many ways of acquiering it, but designers continue struggling in the process.
Through interviews, mapping an user persona and investigation the designers can get a sense of how actually the user opperates and his feelings in the process. Nowadays is absolutely possible to conduct interviews and researchs by online meetings, still there is a distance between the user and the designer.
Recently I came across a very interesting concept and extremly simple to get designers that extra confidence to get a real dosis of empathy. It’s not easy, but the reasults can be game changers in many cases.
The concept is define as GOOB, also as Get Out Of the Building.
Designers where always inspire by field work of anthropologist, experiencing the situations by theirselves and collecting information. But it was an idealization of what collecting research is, the real job of a designer usually is in between offices.
This concept have always been around for some time, but I last heard it from a course in Interaction Design Foundation, which more than encourage designers to travel to exotic lands like anthropologists, they motivate designers to comprehend that the user is out there.
In order to understand and feel empathy, What better way than to live it yourself? It sounds like an adventure, because it suppose to be that way. Developing an excellent first period of empathy is a step that no desginer regrets at the end of the project.
Of course there are limits for this idea, while some of them are very possible like following the experience of buying in a supermarket or at a coffee store, other experiences might be harder or to especific to get into.
If you are developing a tinder for dragqueens and it’s not your usual enviorment, then you could have some difficulties entering that context. It’s not impossible, but you must respect also your boundries and consider the time you have available.
Getting out of the building is a great concept that encourages designers to develope research period and gain the empathy need it in the most effective way possible, by experiencing it by yourself.
There are risks by putting yourself out there, it’s more time consuming and probably is not as easier as looking the information online, but the benefits and insights could show huge results.
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