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Empathy as a super power

Using comic strips to advocate users’ pain and create buy-in.


A prominent banking client wanted to redesign their underwriting application.


Contextual enquiry helped to unearth the user needs of underwriters, account specialists, financial coordinators and business growth consultants. There was a deep anguish and pain when users spoke of the existing badly designed system. It was important to communicate the users’ point of view. The recommendations for process-level optimisation and opportunities for interface screen-level enhancements were presented. But the development team was used to seeing flowcharts and screens, they missed the main actors of the system — the users.

Comics can be an engaging medium to narrate and emote a story. Photo by Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash

The user stories were presented as comic strips for each user role. The comics communicated their misery and pain when using the old system.

Account specialists did not like that they had to manually enter every bit of data.


Underwriters were decision-makers who just needed to consume the data and not enter data.


This helped generate a lot of empathy for the users of the system. It moved the engineering teams and business leaders to implement the recommended changes even if it meant an investment of more time, money and effort.


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