I am someone who has more empathy in my body than most people do in their pinky finger. Sometimes it can be hard to constantly feel for other people, it definitely makes sad movies hard. Yes, I am usually the one balling their eyes out in the theater just at the previews of a movie. I think everyone needs to think in an empathetic mentality when it comes to designing. People go through different walks of life and process things differently. You must be able to think about every type of person that would potentially be using your product. Most people or designers think how they would use it, but not everyone would use it like he does. I think that people get caught up in what makes things easier for their own life that they do not think about how to make the “minority” life easier. For example, the handicapped or the mentally disabled. Countless times I have walked through stores and there would be no possible for wheelchairs to walk through the racks of clothes, not even a mother with a stroller would be able to shop. From my experience at Dillard’s, there was hardly any room for me to walk between racks of clothes. It is not necessarily the store’s fault but it goes back to the buyers. They are concentrating on sales and not thinking about the people that actually walk through the stores every day.
Paul Bennett talks perfectly about empathic design when he uses the example of people who are bed ridden in a hospital. I honestly did not even think about how awful it would be to just stare at the ceiling day in and day out. I think one day something really cool would be invented for those who are stuck in a bed, maybe a TV in the ceiling? I never realized how many things that were invented out of empathy. I think it is amazing what can come of just simply putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. I personally think more people should think of others. We have become such a self-centered society, and it truly makes me sad.
In a way I think if everyone had an old item or an heirloom it could help with empathy. I have a necklace from my mom that she received for her sister’s wedding when she was 21 years old. When I look at the necklace I like to picture what it was like to be my mom at that age and what was going on in the world. It would have been about 1984, I believe and it is fun to picture my mom young and my age. It is good practice on putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
After spending time with my parents and my grandparents I have noticed just simple things that are difficult for them that no one else really thinks about. It could be something as the lighting in a restaurant to where they cannot read the menu, and my grandma has a hard time getting out of her car. Once again, it goes back to someone not thinking about people who have a hard time seeing or who have bad arthritis. It is not possible to cater to everyone, but I think that it is possible to make life somewhat easier for people when you just put yourself in someone else’s shoes.