The power of empathy sessions

developer empathy


As developers, we spend a significant portion of our time building and testing code, ensuring that each individual component of our massive projects functions as intended. This is an essential part of our job; it's how we ensure things work as designed. However, I want to introduce a new concept:

"Works as badly as designed"


When we develop a feature, it's common to focus on delivering it according to specifications. We receive designs from a designer, confirm the feature works as expected through feedback, and move on. This approach often suffices, but it overlooks an essential aspect: the overall user experience. So while it works as designed, it could be bad to use.

Try It from a User's Perspective

Recently, I decided to use one of my own applications, and I was shocked by how frustrating the experience could be. While each feature individually worked perfectly, their integration left much to be desired. To better understand the user experience, I conducted an empathy session by creating three different user journeys.

Through this exercise, I discovered two ways of performing a task that were frustrating and only one way that felt acceptable. This session revealed that although everything was technically correct, the overall user experience was lacking.

By stepping into the user's shoes, I realized that our work shouldn't just function as designed—it should provide a seamless and satisfying experience for the end user.

What next?

From this empathy sessions I've got a todo list that's a good few issues long, my plan is to use this list to improve on the user experience of my application.

Going forward I won't just be testing features for bugs, but rather how they fit into systems as a whole. This should give me a better understanding of how my users will feel when using the systems themselves.

JavaScriptUser ExperienceEmpathy SessionReact NativeMobile Apps
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Written by EvanBurbidge

Javascript developer with 10 years of experience in all things JS related. Love gymming, climbing, airsoft and


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