Design the Future
January 19–20, 2016: Training
January 20–22, 2016: Conference
San Francisco, CA

The empathy gap

Dan Hon (Code for America)
1:15pm Thursday, 01/21/2016
The new fundamentals
Location: Generals Residence Dining
Average rating: ***..
(3.80, 5 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

Participants should a general understanding of product management, user research, service design, and product design.


Forty years of Moore’s Law has led to computers in pockets rather than desks and a more egalitarian definition of “everyone” than ever before. The Internet and the Web have given us the potential to deliver services and products to more people, more quickly. Recently, some companies, products, and services have moved beyond a focus on opportunity and efficiency to demonstrate what technology can be like when delivered with empathy for the human condition, mainly by prioritizing and satisfying their users’ needs. A focus on user empathy isn’t the only reason why these products and services are doing better, but it is assuredly a differentiator.

It turns out that designing with empathy might not be that hard. Dan Hon discusses user empathy and gives examples of software and experiences that exemplify best practices for user empathy, as well as those that demonstrate a lack of user empathy. Dan also explores user empathy as it relates to the delivery of small pieces of business services and illustrates the challenges of user empathy in wearables and consumer healthcare. Finally, Dan offers practical advice for building a culture of empathy in your organization.

Photo of Dan Hon

Dan Hon

Code for America

Dan Hon is editorial director at Code for America, where he’s making better digital government that is easy to understand and easy to copy. Dan was previously a creative director at Wieden+Kennedy Portland, cofounder at Six to Start, and COO at Mind Candy. He is a recovered lawyer and writes a newsletter, Things That Have Caught My Attention.