Practice Empathy By Watching

by Chance Smith

Watching people use what you’ve built is amazing and way underrated!

I recommend user testing your work at least once a month.

When you watch people use your product, you understand better why they need the solution you’ve created. You’re resurfacing the demand. You’re reminded of why this work matters. You get to ask…

“How painful of a problem are we solving?”

Watching people work has this same effect. You get to see their preferences and workflows. You’ll see what apps are required or redundant.

Our second son, Mason (age 7), played Minecraft with the narrator/voiceover turned on. My curious self couldn’t resist knowing if it was by mistake or preferred. I asked if he knew who would use such a feature, but he didn’t realize the narrator was for those who couldn’t read or were visually impaired. That drove up the empathy for those that need such assistance.

I asked him to close his eyes and try to play the game with only the narrator’s guidance. I had no idea if the blind experience was a valid use case, but it helped him understand and empathize with why a feature exists.

For the same reason audiobooks are great, my son preferred the narrator for efficiency, so he didn’t have to read while he played.

I wouldn’t have learned that my son preferred the voiceover. I wouldn’t have discovered this feature existed in games. Together, we empathized for those that might need the voiceover feature.

The point is

You’ll gain so much empathy watching someone use a product you’re selling, supporting, creating, or building.