Empathy, design and human factors

Andree Woodcock, Deana McDonagh, Jane Osmond, Wesley Scott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


With rapid changes to inclusivity, accessibility, technology and the global economy, there is a need to appreciate and understand the way in which real people actually engage and interact with products, systems and services. Designers need to go beyond the merely functional. To do this they need to develop deeper understanding of users, which goes beyond mere categorization of user types and characteristics. They need to have the ability and confidence to try new ways of finding information and gaining ‘authentic experiences.’ Empathy has been recognized as a key skill by practicing designers. This paper introduces empathy, shows why it is important, and provides evidence for a greater need of empathy during design and research activities. The paper is built around two case studies from our work on design for older user, which illustrate the need for more empathy in codesign activities and insights students gather using experience prototypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Usability and User Experience - Proceedings of the AHFE 2017 International Conference on Usability and User Experience, 2017
EditorsTareq Ahram, Christianne Falcão
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9783319604916
StatePublished - 2018
EventAHFE 2017 International Conference on Usability and User Experience, 2017 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: Jul 17 2017Jul 21 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357


OtherAHFE 2017 International Conference on Usability and User Experience, 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLos Angeles


  • Breakdown analysis
  • Design process
  • Education
  • Evaluation
  • Older users

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • General Computer Science


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