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The Study Hall

Voices of Instructure: The Importance of Empathy

Over several years of creating software, there is something that I have found to be very valuable and important: empathy. By having empathy for our customers—ranging from those with accessibility requirements to anyone who may need an extra touch in the software—we can build better software that truly makes an impact on people's lives. 

To have empathy for others, you really have to put yourselves in their shoes to try and understand what they are going through. When building software, we can do the same. We can try to feel the challenges and benefits others experience when using the software we create, and truly listen to their needs and concerns. In software, customer problems are too often dismissed because they do not seem important enough or there are "better" things to focus on. To change this, we need to listen to customer needs and desires and consider how software issues affect them. If we do not account for the needs of the customer, our software shifts from being human-focused to task-focused.

One cool thing about empathy is that it is a skill we can work on improving. We can do this every day by watching the world around us, observing what is going on, and seeing what people are experiencing. This can be especially useful when you try and see things from the perspective of someone you may not agree with.

Having empathy for our customers and those around us can help us make better software, improve our day-to-day interactions with those around us, and strengthen our impact.