Lesson 3: Empathic Design Process

Audio Lesson

Listen Now or Read the Transcript

Key Takeaway

The empathic design process has four phases:

  1. Discovery
  2. Immersion
  3. Connection
  4. Detachment
Empathic Design Process: 1. Discovery, 2. Immersion, 3. Connection, 4. Detachment


We’ll need pen and paper for this.

  1. Divide the paper into 4 quadrants.
  2. Label the quadrants with the phases in the empathic design process: Discovery, Immersion, Connection, and Detachment
  3. Then, for each phase in the process, write down the tools and techniques you use in your own work.
  4. What do you notice here?


Hey there, rockstar! It’s the last day of the Three-day Creative Empathy Challenge.

Tomorrow, you’ll be able to earn a certificate by taking the exam, but today we’re going to pop the hood of creative empathy and talk about the Empathic Design Process.

Dr. Froukje Sleeswijk Visser and her colleague Merlijn Kouprie synthesized a number of academic models into this holistic process. In short, the empathic design process is useful when we want to design anything for someone else.

It gives us a deeper insight into their needs so we can design with those needs in mind. And the process itself has four phases. Discovery, Immersion, Connection, and Detachment.

Discovery is where we approach the other person’s world with curiosity and a willingness to empathize.

Immersion is when we enter that world and learn as much as we can without judgment.

Connection happens when we resonate with the other person’s experience by recalling relevant memories of our own.

And detachment lets us leave their world and move on to creative action so we can build things and start the cycle again.

And that’s the process. 1, 2, 3, 4.

For today’s exercise, we’re going to overlay our own work onto the Empathic Design Process to identify strengths and gaps. I’ll read the instructions now, but they’re also written down in the email for this lesson.

For this one, we’ll need a pen and paper.

  1. Divide the paper into four quadrants.
  2. And go ahead and label each quadrant with the phases of the empathic design process: discovery, immersion, connection, and detachment.
  3. Then for each phase of the process, write down the tools and techniques that you’re using in your own work right now.
  4. And once you’re done with that, just go ahead and look at the sheet and see what kind of patterns that you notice.

Well, I hope this bit of self-assessment is useful! Tomorrow is the exam for this course.

In the meantime, I’m Brian Pagán and thank you for listening. Hasta mañana. 🏝