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Storytelling & Empathising with the User

Storytelling is a powerful tool for gaining new perspectives and creating shared understanding. Building empathy  through storytelling creates greater understanding of what people want and need, what their pain points are and what brings them joy. Here I showcase my workflow and how I've used storytelling in past projects.


Below is an example of how I used storyboarding to reveal the emotional connection between pets and their owners. The challenge was to find a solution for pet owners to interact with their furry loved ones while they're not at home. I propose an app that gives owners a way to have Live Video check-ins with their pets.

Storboarding is a powerful tool I use to present my design ideas and proposed solutions to clients because it humanizes the whole process and improves user experience, which in turn also helps to increase sales.


Other areas of Storytelling include the following:


Before defining the problem statement I conduct user research to gain a better understanding of the user I'm designing solutions for.


This is usually done by conducting:

  • interviews

  • surveys

I then categorize the data using:

  • affinity mapping

To the right are examples taken from the INKTANK project. You can read more about the project here.

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Designing solutions from 'the shoes of the user' is a great way to define your demographic and understanding that people have different needs and will use your product or service in different ways.

Here is an example of user personas i created for local company, HUED that needed an application solution for people to share ideas related to the Quality of Life program in Saudi Arabia.

Here is another example of a persona I created from the WORDCHAT project and her frustration points identified when interacting with learning apps.

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Journey Mapping is a great way to understand what the user 'feels' through the different stages when interacting with your product or service. In the below example I explain the emotional journey one persona may feel when interacting with the INKTANK app. I highlight both high and low points.

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Image by Priscilla Du Preez

Building empathy through storytelling is not only reserved for designers. This can also be used at the workplace. I especially use storytelling when conducting training and Design Thinking workshops.


The best way to build empathy is getting employees to share their personal stories and insights. Another way of storytelling is through role-playing activities.



Empathy strengthens the bond between coworkers and  fosters a friendly and collaborative work environment.

Read more about the benefits of using storytelling in workplace in my blog post, Building empathy through storytelling.

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