The Importance of Empathy in UX

The Importance of Empathy in UX

3 flâneur qualities to put the user first

What can a 19th century interpretation of a French verb meaning “to stroll” teach marketers about UX? Designer and product specialist Sarah Doody suggests that the flâneur approach can inspire effective design by taking the time to understand, and then address, unique challenges. This approach reinforces a central tenant of UX design; empathy and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the user. This ability is at the foundation of human centered design and is essential for developing the right solution for users.


Flâneur can provide non-UX marketers a new way of understanding how UX designers think. Like an individual wandering a foreign capital, UX relies foremost on observation to inform greater understanding of your surroundings as well as behaviors of the people around you. This idea of observation and active listening can lead to nuanced discoveries that result in solutions that solve real problems for users.


Consider the following flâneur qualities that align with the guiding principles of UX:

  1. Understand the world. Focus on the people and products a solution is being designed for. Be aware of why people do what they do to better understand the problem and potential solutions.
  2. Think like a child. Come with a fresh and inquisitive mind when addressing challenges. Realize each situation is unique, and one-size fits all solutions are the exception rather than the rule.
  3. Find meaning in observations. It’s not enough to only be aware of one’s surroundings, but to understand it. After internalize the challenges, one must externalize a solution.


The ability to connect the dots through observation, and then address user concerns is key. Taking the time to immerse oneself in their audiences’ situation can inspire real solutions to unmet needs.