Story telling – a powerful tool for building empathy

Storytelling more often than not plays a big role in UX design and in the design thinking process. Storytelling enables designers to create compelling narratives around the people they’re designing for, enabling them to develop a deep and emotional understanding of the users wants and needs.  Stories are fantastic ways to infuse empathy into design projects, and can be useful for design thinkers.

“It is essential that storytelling begins early in the life of a project and be woven into every aspect of the innovation effort. It has been common practice for design teams to bring writers in at the end to document a project once it has been completed. Increasingly they are building them into the design team from day one to help move the story along in real time.” – Tim Brown, Change by Design

Today, it is widely established that empathy is needed in creating a true understanding of the user experience as a resource in the design process (Suri, f., Koskinen, I., Battarbee, K. 2003). Empathy, according to Koskinen & Battarbee (2003:45), is “an imaginative projection into another person’s situation”. Design empathy is the capacity of participating in the feelings or ideas of another person. It is a personal connection to the users who are seen as persons with feelings, not merely as informants (Mattelmäki & Battarbee 2002). “As designers, most of our work is about making things, not for ourselves or people we know, but for other people” Suri (2003: 52).


Brown, T. (2009).  Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. HarperCollins

Dam, R., Siang, T. (2017). The Power Of Stories in Building Empathy. Retrieved from

Suri, f., Koskinen, I., Battarbee, K. (2003). Empathetic Design: User Experience in Product Design. IT Press.

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