Empathize with the Users and Empower Employees for Success: Step 4 & 5 to UX Success

By Jon Fukuda

This is the fifth and final blog of a multi-part series to guide global enterprises and federal government agencies on best practices that drive successful operational efficiency through better UX using an Agile methodology.

As this is the concluding blog in our series, I wanted to briefly recap what’s been discussed so far. The first blog in the series outlined the top three challenges blocking the path to UX success. The second blog explained what exactly UX is and demonstrated the positive ROI of great UX. The third blog explained the discovery process—the first key step to driving operational efficiency through better UX, and the fourth blog explored best practices for eliminating silos and creating a centralized funding source.

This blog will home in on empathy in design and the employee experience, as well as the benefits of deploying an Agile methodology.

Step 4: Empathize with the Users

Coworkers at a Laptop
Two coworkers look together on a screen to work through a problem.

The key to success when building complex systems is maintaining a focus on the user—both the “external” customer or citizen and the “internal” employee or constituent—and usability from product inception through deployment and beyond. To truly be able to focus on the user you must empathize with the user. The need for empathy in UX design is increasingly becoming recognized as an important factor.

Empathy is not just about imagining how someone is feeling but having some knowledge of their situation and what they are trying to achieve. Without empathy, you cannot fully understand the problems users might be facing in relation to your product or service. 

Most technologies are now used by a wide range of people from different cultures and with a variety of physical, mental and situational constraints. Given this, it’s necessary to develop an understanding of how you can design products and systems that appeal to, support and enable everyone. You can’t appreciate what it means to be each and every person who uses a product or system, but through the use of an empathic design approach, you can come to understand how people behave, feel and want to accomplish key tasks using your products and services.

In our experience, the most effective way to practice empathy is to observe users interacting with your product or system in their own environment—at home, work or around town. Observing users in the field allows you to capture insights that are impossible to glean through other research methods.

With empathy-based user research, you are able to listen and learn from observing users and leverage the key findings to create the information architecture, develop the interaction modeling and ultimately design and build user-centric digital service design models. Maintaining a focus on the user experience throughout the process is paramount to designing a system that is efficient and easy to use.

Step 5:  Empower employees for success

During the discovery phase—through business process analysis, user research and systems analysis, you not only gain a better understanding of the needs of your internal users (often an overlooked yet important constituent), but you invariably encounter a percentage of problems in the employee experience that are systematic and require organizational changes. One of the most common findings is a lack of technology to support business process management. Where the systems are in place, they’re not configured optimally to harness their full yield to your organization. This is problematic because gaps in digital processes cause human errors that tend to cause failure, ultimately impacting both the internal and external user experience.

Needing to incorporate operational change management is usually a bitter pill. It’s hard to admit when your team hasn’t re-organized or hired the right skills mix to meet the needs that fully support today’s intelligent automated systems and digitally-savvy customers and citizens.

Without getting into politically charged conversations, Limina tactfully identifies the gaps and provides you with the right list of workforce skills required. The best-case scenario is that you have the skills in-house.

Limina also addresses the training of your staff. While not often admitted, training is typically a bigger problem than organizations know—usually on a given technology; think Salesforce, SharePoint, and other external user support frameworks. With proper training, employees can be taught to work efficiently with new technology systems.

The end result is employees who are able to keep pace with customers’ and citizens’ needs and expectations while eliminating manual processes and increasing internal operational efficiency.

We recommend integrating the five UX best practices described in this blog series with an Agile approach into the design and development of digital and information technology (IT) systems projects for optimized business impact. The combination of UX processes and the Agile methodology is what will close the gap between what users expect from their online experiences and what commercial businesses and federal agencies are able to deliver.

Five Key Steps to Drive Operational Efficiency through Better User Experience

Step 1:  Begin your initiative with a Discovery phase

Step 2:  Eliminate Silos

Step 3:  Create a centralized funding source

Step 4:  Empathize with users

Step 5:  Empower employees for success

The Adoption of Agile

Agile development is an umbrella term for a group of development methodologies, processes and techniques that share a common vision for delivering value in shorter timeframes. These core principles of Agile are articulated within the Agile Manifesto and promoted by the Agile Alliance and include:

  • Customer satisfaction,
  • Welcoming changing requirements,
  • Delivering working software frequently, and
  • Working closely with business stakeholders in a collaborative fashion.

The Benefits of Being More Agile

Rather than going from functional requirements through development, build and test cycles, Agile techniques emphasize delivering a small piece of functionality and business value early, and then continuously improving and adding more functionality throughout the duration of the system’s or product’s development.

Agile techniques provide a means for both software developers and those who represent the business users to move up the learning curve together to understand both the business objectives of the application or system and the limitations of a specific technology. This methodology provides significant advantages that deliver business value earlier in the development cycle and adapt easily to changing requirements throughout the process. In summary, Agile development provides the following business benefits:

  • Reduced cycle time-to-market
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased revenue from delivering some product functionality and features earlier
  • Improved quality due to the integration of testing throughout the lifecycle
  • Higher user satisfaction since they are actively involved during the process
  • Enhanced organizational flexibility
  • Built-in risk mitigation as a result of highly visible, incremental releases


Beginning your initiative with a discovery phase, eliminating silos, creating a centralized funding source, designing with empathy and empowering your employees are the five distinct best practices—that when deployed with an Agile methodology—make the most difference in simplifying complex computer interactions and creating successful IT and digital systems.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog series and have a better understanding of the importance of UX.

When products and systems are designed around users and their contexts with careful consideration for how the technology can improve the quality of lives, everyone wins. Apple, Google, Airbnb, Uber and Netflix are proof that the best UX designs create high performing brands.

Leave a comment below or email me at jfukuda@limina.co and we can talk more specifically about how UX can contribute value to your organization.

Read Part 4