Project Work 4: Share Your Work and Reflect On a Learning

I’ve been working on a project that focuses on improving the lives of senior citizens and family caretakers. It’s a huge population, and constantly growing. With baby boomers starting to reach the age of full retirement and many of them beginning to need care, I felt that it was an area that deserved attention.

We began by doing around 6 weeks of research and interviews and found that most of the pain points seniors and their family caretakers face can be synthesized into three points - 
- For the seniors: loneliness and loss of control
- For the caretakers: dealing with burnout.

We did additional research and brainstorming and realized that voice assistant devices were a great solution to address all three issues.

But why weren’t people using these devices already?

We knew that seniors and caretakers already had these devices, so there must be some disconnect. What we found was there there was a gap between in usability between the devices and the seniors. The devices were terrible at informing users about their capabilities and how to use them, and the seniors often didn’t have the technological literacy to know how to get more information (as most of it was only available online).

So we set out to bridge that gap.

At this point, we’ve been developing three different points of intervention to help seniors use these devices to their fullest (and therefore meet the needs the devices can address).

First Intervention

Our main focus until this point has been a printed reference guide. Not a manual. We found that most people from that generation don’t even look at manuals. They are fiercely independent and want to figure things out for themselves (at least on principle).

We know that the reference guide will include commands for the top 5 most useful capabilities for seniors. Things that will always be available with these devices, no matter how much they upgrade.

  • Calling
  • Q and A
  • Reminders
  • Alarms
  • Transportation

What we are developing and testing now is what form the guide will ultimately take. One of the main requirements is that it seems precious enough that it is not mistaken for a manual or piece of marketing material and thrown away right out of the box. The other requirement was that it be in a form that seniors were familiar with. Something that would easily fit into their everyday lives.

Our first round of designs and testing showed that our guides were too big. We had printed them on A4 paper. None of the seniors we interviewed wanted to deal with that. They wanted something small and portable. Something that they could refer to when they wanted it, but wouldn’t be garish and noticeable otherwise.

So the next round we tried a 5X7 refridgerator magnet and a wallet sized card (3.3 X 2.2). These were better received, but we got feedback that the content on them was too small.

The latest iteration were building and going to test are a pack of wallet sized magnets that only have one piece of content per card. We’re also building a rack that the cards can sit on, similar to the form of a page a day calendar. The idea is to find as many display methods as possible while still keeping the same size and format of each card. So using magnets, stickers, card stock, etc. We’ll be testing them over the weekend, so I’ll write another post detailing what feedback we got and where we’re heading to next.

Post in the comments if you have any questions or have suggestions of your own that we should try. Thanks!