Archive for November, 2008

User Testing with the elderly…

November 25, 2008

Some results from our user testing of the idea we are currently developing….

Ideo “design for social impact”

November 23, 2008


A really interesting project by Ideo for the Rockefeller Foundation

check it out!

Testing the Iphone

November 23, 2008

If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that for the last few weeks we have been doing a project based around elderly people living in nursing homes, with the main aim to improve their everyday experiences. The project is part of our GUI (graphical user interface) module, so the product or service that we implement will have a GUI. While we were doing our initial user testing on friday we decided to test the iphone on an elderly person,as touch screens can be very powerful when it come to designing a GUI. We wanted to see how they would react to it, and if they could physically use it. Our findings were……




  • She understood the sliding mechanism to flick through the pictures-It was intuitive.
  • She could slide to unlock the  phone with the sliding mechanism, was a little small though for her
  • She enjoyed flicking through the pictures using the sliding mechanism.
  • she found it hard to use the icons because she was pressing them like a button, but wasn’t getting feedback, so she wasn’t taking her finger of the screen, so therefor it wasn’t opening the application, it needs to instantly open when she touches it.
  • She understood the photo symbol and calculator symbol on the dashboard and managed to use them
  • she commented about the calculator “I used to have one of these for when i went shopping, to calculate the prices” (so it was familiar to her even though it was in a new context)
  • She was a little heavy handed, everything just needed to be a bit bigger and give more responsive feedback so she new she was doing it correctly.
  • She was curious about the ‘home’ button, and could use it fine!

All in all it was very positive,i think elderly people could use a touch screen, if the GUI was simle enough and had familiar contexts to what they are used to. A key factor is that they need to gain that feedback to know they are doing something as they don’t have the feeling you get when using a physical button.

Good GUI notes…(mainly for my record!)

November 23, 2008


a lovely GUI (graphical user interface)

Things for me to remember and consider for when designing a good GUI:

  • group elements together
  • think of primary and secondary actions
  • The 80/20 % rule (normally only 20% of a UI is used)
  • Affordances: Physical and digital constraints
  • Use familiar symbols (think of desktop metaphor)
  • Scaleability and flexability
  • The user must feel comfortable:you need a clear sense of ‘home’, always allow undo, always make an easy way out, progress bars
  • The interface and task always belong to the USER!

A brilliant quote….

November 23, 2008


Bob Baxley

Lets use design to help people…It’s so powerfull!!!

user scenario’s and prototyping for the elderly

November 23, 2008

At the end of Tuesday this week we had come up with ten ideas that we believed would benefit the experience of the residents or staff within an elderly home. Our ideas were based on the insights we had gathered the week before in a number of homes Across Copenhagen. To progress with the project our next step was to cut down our ideas so we could map the ideas out in user scenarios and test and gain feedback from the elderly. It was an extremely hard task but we managed to decided on 3 ideas to take further. Our decisions were made by taking the ideas that we felt had the strongest value to the user and would provide a beautiful experience, that could then be applied to a familiar context for them.


Initial Scenario building for the concepts



Further developed scenario’s with context frames, and UI close ups

Idea 1: The grounding device is predominantly for the elderly that have memory loss or dementia, it provides the user with a grounding by telling them the day and date as well as happy memories and events from the past and milestone events in the future. This will allow the elderly to be nostalgic, and help with loneliness and memory loss.


Idea 2: A device that allows the friends and family of the elderly to contact them easily through SMS messages and email. The elderly receives the ‘mail’ every morning from a device that prints their mail so it is in a familiar context to them.  This will hopefully create less isolation from the family and make the elderly feel more involved in their lives. It allows friends and family to use quick methods of communication that they are used to using without imposing it on the elderly person.


Idea 3: A digital encyclopedia specific to an elderly home. The device would be used as a tool by the carers to show residents photo’s to help jog memories, connect other patients together and new residents could use it to see if there are new people in the home. We hoped that would act as a bridging tool for social interaction and foster community spirit!


Initial paper prototypes for user testing and feedback

Above are the paper prototypes we built for our initial user testing, these were used on Friday to get user feedback. We discussed and demonstrated the ideas through ‘scenario walk throughs’ and let the staff and residents play with the prototypes, it was great talking to them as it sparked a little co-creation too with them providing us with some great ideas! All in all a great morning!

I’l post more on the user testing when it is all collated and presented!

Have a lovely Sunday!

Sid see’s snow!

November 21, 2008

It snowed in Copenhagen today for the first time since we arrived! This was especially lovely as my friend Sid who is from India has never seen snow before…it was wonderful!



The first glimpses of snow

Pecha Kucha @ CIID

November 20, 2008

On monday the pilot year students held their first internal Pecha Kucha night. Pecha Kucha is a presentation format, with the idea to keep the presentations concise, the interest level up and to have many presenters sharing their ideas within the course of one night. Therefore the 20×20 Pecha Kucha format was created: each presenter is allowed a slide show of 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds.

The name derives from a Japanese term for the sound of conversation “chit-chat”.

During my presentation i showed previous work, inspiring projects, companies and people i admire and general day to day interests! It was an absolutely fantastic evening… was great to gain more of an insight into people lives before they came on the pilot year. On Monday we had an architect, a film producer, web designer, programmer and myself presenting so it was a great mixture, i am really looking forward to the next five presentations next Monday!!

GUI applications for the elderly

November 18, 2008

Yesterday at CIID we started our new GUI (Graphical User Interfaces) block. During the next two weeks the main foucs will be a hands on approach through a user centered development process for a GUI concept. The course is being taught by Alex Wiethoff (CIID) and Neils Clausen-Stuck. Neils worked as a senior interaction designer at IDEO for 7 years up intill joining Kontrapunkt in 2008.

The course will be broken into two, with Half being a series of short exercises and lectures that will look into key aspects, contexts, history, applications and limiting factors that influence the design of GUI and the other half will be developing a concept with an application specific GUI that offers value in the elderly care space. The ideas that we develop will be based on the insights we gained last week whilst doing user research in elderly homes around Copenhagen.

Why are we designing for elderly care?

“Creating a concept with an application specific GUI for an elderlycare context with multiple user groups (patients, doctors, nurses, visitors) with their respective information needs represents an interesting basis for the students to create highly tailored and relevant interfaces for a demanding target group.  The students will have to develop, design, prototype tools and experiences that have impact and show empathy towards the different user groups needs and contexts” Course Syllabus

Yesterday we kicked of this GUI block with a very informative lecture of the history of GUI. One area that really stood out for me were the core aspects to consider when you want to create a GUI that will provide value to the end user,  these were….

Accessibility and Usability


Visual design

The learning Curve for the user

The Interaction paradigm, the metaphor that will create the mental model

Brilliant points to always remember!

After a little history we were given an overview of typology of GUIs, i especially loved this example..

Over the course of yesterday afternoon and today we have gone back to our user insights from last week and found the real opportunity areas, created brainstorming topics in the form of “how might we” statements, (“how might we support the staff to help them create the best possible care experience”) had several huge brainstorming sessions, and have now decided on 10 ideas to develop further…..and of course we could not have done it without the trusty post-its!


voting for our opportunity areas


our “how might we” statements


brainstorming, brainstorming, brainstorming


10 ideas to develop

For the next two days we will be developing and prototyping our initial ideas and then on Friday we will take them back to the elderly homes to gain feedback from the residents and staff for further development!

Finding a need

November 15, 2008

After we had returned from our visits to the nursing homes, our next task was to collate all our insights, stories, quotes and photo’s to find areas that we felt needed to be addressed.




before we organized!

Because we had so much information and data is was a large task so we came up with four focus areas that we thought there was a need to look into. These were:

Integration of technology in the lives of the elderly

Communication tools

Personal Identity and social Interaction

Sense of ‘Home’ vs. ‘Institution’ and space for social activity

With these four areas in place we mapped all our insights into one of these headings and started to look for specific needs. We created a ‘need statement’ for every section and with every ‘need statement’ we backed it up with photo’s, stories we had heard and quotes. We also identified our Ultimate goals, opportunities, problems and further area’s of focus.


Our four need statements we developed were:

“Common spaces need to express the same feeling of “home” as the private spaces do”

“Genuine friendships between residents based on shared interests, experiences and personalities”

“Better tools to facilitate communication with friends, family and life in the outside world”

“Need for digital devices designed for aiding the elderly in a variety of daily tasks and activities

These statements were all developed around the topics above that i discussed (problems, opportunities etc.) but for this post i will just talk about one need in more detail:

Focus Area: Communication

Need Statement:“Better tools to facilitate communication with friends, family and life in the outside world”

Relating Needs: More autonomy to communicate, Computers/communication devises that doesn’t look like computers, Education about email, mobile, phone (or can we design devices that are very easy/intuitive to use) Better access to news and current affairs.


User Evidence:

”I am content about everything. My only worry is why my granddaughter doesn’t contact me”

”I have a son in Atlanta but I have to save money to call him”

”My only daughter lives in London and I never see her but I talk to her on the phone on Saturdays”

Ultimate Goals: Feel less isolated, Included in family lives and society as a whole, Become more comfortable with technology in general.

Opportunities: Video calls – being able to connect voice to face e.g. see grandchildren grow, Share/receive photo´s to get an insight of their daily lives, Pre-setup skype device for the elderly, Communicate with other residents who have speech/expressive problems, No interrupted communication between the elderly and the family, Use physical/ambient devices to show how people are feeling in other countries/cities/homes.

Problems: Families neglect elderly, They don’t have access to the internet, They are limited by physical constraints, Phone calls are too expensive, Staff has no time to teach new things.

Where do we go from here?

The following are more specific focus areas that will be looked into for more research and development

Space and Communal areas: Analyzing trends of use and activity in different spaces to help staff optimize their use

Social: A formal process for facilitating the creation of new social clubs based on the skills and interests of the residents

Communication: Easy to use communication tools incorporating what people use on the outside world, such as a networked objects

Use of Technology: Using technologies to create joyful and satisfying alone time e.g. Personalized memory games

Next we will be taking our insights on to our Graphical User Interface investigation to develop and prototype ideas!