You might consider empathy to be a rather peculiar skill for website creation, but that's not the case at all. Establishing an empathy with your prospective audience is at least as important as any technical prowess.
Any successful website will have a target audience in mind. It could be aimed at business people, sport-minded individuals, technology experts, bookworms or those with a social media addiction. Delivering a website with plenty of frequently updated, audience-specific content will give them reason to return to your site time and time again.
An empathic perspective enables you to determine who these people really are and what makes them tick. The trick is to understand what's likely to grab their attention and, just as importantly, what will turn them off. In effect you're attempting to detach yourself from the website technicalities and try to think like a visitor who is assessing the site for the first time.
There are many questions to ask...
• As a first-time visitor can you quickly determine what the site is about?
• Which elements immediately grab your attention?
• Is the content relevant, fresh and topical?
• Does the flow and navigation appear intuitive and consistent?
The more questions you ask the better your assessment will be, and the more successful your people-focussed changes will become.