Research, games, and fun: Discovering problems and exploring solutions with empathy workshops

Jul 21, 2020 | News

Red Hat’s User Experience Design (UXD) team researches, designs, and develops product experiences in the open. This means users play a big role in everything we do. To create products people actually want to use, we work with them, gather their feedback, and make sure their voices are heard.

Our UXD Research team is always looking to engage with users and collect this much-needed insight while also making the feedback experience enjoyable. So we run empathy workshops to do just that. 

What’s an empathy workshop? 

Empathy workshops are group activities designed to establish empathy and understanding through hands-on games and brainstorming. Through these interactions, you gain a better understanding of user problems, needs, and motivations. Not only are games and activities fun, but they eliminate some of the group effect issues, enabling each participant to share their personal opinions while connecting with others.  

You can then use the information and ideas you gather from these workshops as inspiration for follow-up design thinking sprints, which makes empathy workshops a useful supplement to your other user research efforts. 

What does an empathy workshop look like?

Empathy workshops come in all different forms, but they usually involve a group of participants and a moderator. Let’s consider one that uses the first three phases of the design thinking process: empathize, define, and ideate:

  1. Empathize to discover and explore problem areas. 
  2. Define to identify the focus and scope of problem-solving. 
  3. Ideate to brainstorm on problem-solving ideas. 

There are roughly 20 participants involved, broken into groups of 4. They complete a variety of activities that eventually lead to discovering new product problems and creating solutions together. This type of workshop is a great opportunity to connect and engage with product teams and users—while involving chocolates, creative thinking, and a touch of imagination.

Read more about conducting this type of empathy workshop and using the results as part of your own research in Sara Chizari’s full article on PatternFly.

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