BoomerangLIFE — a UX Case Study
The senior population and their demand for caregiving services, especially for those with Alzheimers and dementia, are on the rise around the world. While care is being covered for some of those in need, it is becoming more evident that not enough time is spent on mental stimulation via recreational and social activities.
It is BoomerangLIFE’s goal to enhance the seniors’ lives through mental stimulation and social interaction while educating those who care for them how important it is to properly address the individual inside and to not assume that memory challenged seniors are unresponsive.
When presented with this brief, we, the UX design team, started out with an idea of what our brief was, but we were only able to really see how we would solve the problem once we dove deeper into the world of care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Eventually, we defined our hypothesis:
By creating dynamic and easy to access content on a mobile application, we will expand the product’s reach and create an engaging experience for both the senior and the facilitator.
After doing the necessary research and analysis you will see below, our focus then became clear. By combining the existing needs with our client’s values we decided that the goal was to ease the means in which existing facilitators into running recreational programs in an effective, respectful and considerate way for the seniors they care for.
Our group’s task delegation was quite favourable for everyone to be able to practice a bit of every UX skill we needed for this project. Most of our research and planning stage was done as a group where everyone would have their input.
I took the role of managing our calendar and tasks, such as communication with the client and setting up interviews, and drafting up the documentation of our project to be handed off. I also served as a facilitator, providing direction and managing the design system, ensuring consistency in the Sketch files and assisting with the use of the software and introducing Abstract for our group to work on the same files collaboratively.
In the later stages of prototyping, I participated in tying together our clickable Invision prototype and also performed a couple of user tests.
Now, let’s dive into the process:
Who is it really for?
In an effort to provide a clear insight to whom we were designing for, we combined our research results — domain research, interviews, contextual inquiries, survey results, etc — and visualized it as an ecosystem. A tool that serves as a graphic visualization of your system or a portion of it and maps its interactions, relationships and processes. This allowed us to confirm that the experience that happens around the device is just as important as what is happening in the app.
Through our research, there was more and more indication that although the senior persona is the final user to benefit from the app’s recreational activities, there was a need to examine further the facilitators’ role in our experience.
Besides encouraging the senior to engage in the activity, our app needed to reinforce that it is a tool for the facilitator to expand from it and get the most out of a recreational interaction with the seniors. Therefore we need to get the facilitator involved for our end user, the seniors, to be able to properly benefit from the mental stimulation and social interactions our app will provide.
Finding the right approach
We evolved our design by thinking about how much guidance the facilitator would need and how that could work together with the added accessibility for seniors.
By applying that approach, we focused on features that would help the facilitator execute a recreational session while allowing seniors with a higher level of cognition to possibly use the app without being guided.
The most important things to consider were to keep the number of interactions per screen to a minimum, while still letting the user start an activity with only a few clicks, and to always make sure the user knows in what context he or she is.
In doing so our design consisted of very simple and straightforward screens with a conversational friendly voice at each step the facilitator, senior, or any new adopter, would need guidance for using our app.
Our first round of tests was done using a low-fidelity prototype which helped us reorder screens and fill in the gaps to achieve a smoother flow. Also during this stage, we confirmed the importance of the friendly and clear tone of the app to help guide the user through their task. After that, we refined our screens by applying the necessary visual design for clean communication between the app and the user.
We finished our project by completing a mid-fidelity prototype based on all of our discoveries and having it tested to be able to handoff a pretty solid framework our client would be able to build up from and possibly publish the app.
You can check out the clickable prototype by clicking here.
Something to remember for the future is to allow ourselves to perform more tests, including with seniors, to take our prototype to an even higher usability and accessibility level based on confirmed results.
All in all, in the process of this project I realized the kind of impact this product could have, not only on the users but also on the people working on it. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to and work with amazing people, both working in the field and some seniors. This project has allowed me to execute research and interviews in a usually delicate case where increased empathy comes in handy.
Working with Alzheimer’s and dementia has opened my eyes to how much good design can do, even in such a short period of time.