Archive for the ‘User research’ Category


December 15, 2008

InspireUX  is a really great blog that post quotes related to user experience design. It is a great reference to have. Each quote posted  focuses on the impact that user experience can have on the people living in our world today. I highly recommend you have a look at it if you haven’t already.


This is one quote i really love…..It links back to a lot of what we have been talking about at CIID. You must not be precious about your ideas……at the end of the day our biggest aim is create the best possible solution and experience for the end user . The power of working in teams with people from diverse backgrounds is so immense…..we must take advantage of this amazing opportunity we have given!!! and do good with it!!!

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!

Insights from elderly homes….

November 15, 2008

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we visited 2 different elderly homes in Copenhagen to try and gain insight into their daily lives and how it could be improved focusing on the areas of social interaction, physical activity and autonomy. We spent the two days talking to elderly people who suffered from dementia and their carers and doing observations of their daily lives. On this post i am going to write up some of my notes from these two days, that we then went on to analyze. (for privacy reasons i have left out the names of people and the elderly home)


Day 1: Fredriksberg

  • Owned by a Methodist church and funded by the Fredriksberg Kommune
  • The manager has been there 23 years, he runs it with his wife, his son grew up there
  • There are 60 residents, 64 full time staff,each resident has their own carer for more personal tasks like washing and getting dressed. It is essential that there is a strong bond between the carer and resident. The carer will be changed until the resident feels comfortable with them.
  • Most residents have either had a stroke and have dementia.
  • Large focus on the communal areas and social activities
  • 30% of the residents die each year (this is well below average)
  • “our job is to give them their identity back, they need their identity to meet people, otherwise their is no point” (Manager)
  • In the first three or four months the residents decide if the want to live or or give up hope, there for during this time it is the sole objective of the home to make them happy, help them make friends and enjoy there time there.
  • “you can make a cold cup of coffee warm with a hug and a kiss on the cheek” When the residents are sad or frustrated they complain about things that aren’t true, during this time they need kindness ad affection that the staff will give them.
  • They make a huge effort to make sure the residents keep their independence, they have their own apartments that they bring their own furniture to , they take them of trips to parks, forests, other cities, other countries!
  • They staff know all about the residents previous life and experiences they have had, so that when the patients with dementia become frustrated, upset or angry they can calm with familiar and happy stories.
  • They have a special room called the “memory room’ It is filled with old artifacts and memories to help the residents remember old happy memories.


In the memory room

  • There is a physical therapy room which is brilliantly equipped that that the residents enjoy using but the machine are very over complicated and hard for them to design, the interface should be put to better use or encouragement etc.



Working out!

  • The patient don’t choose who they end up living with, so there personalities often clash and find it hard to make close friends
  • They all have different experiences from the outside world-these need to be taken into consideration more
  • The staff keep a diary of the residents to help the family know what they have been doing
  • The residents always need someone around otherwise they feel scared
  • “They give you a lot, its very rewarding, when i see them with a smile of their face i know i have done my job” (dementia specialist)
  • “It doesn’t matter if it’s a new house or an old house it’s the staff, it can be a big room or a small room it’s still the staff” (dementia specialist)
  • There i no strict schedule in the home,the residents can decide what they want to do, you have to judge every situation as it arises “Taking the temperature” (carer)
  • “We don’t notice it’s a nursing home, because we are all all alike, we do things together like a family”(Jospeph, Resident)


At the hairdresser

Day 2: Nørrebro

  • Strong connection to the Salvation Army and is supported by your Kommune
  • residents move in because they need 24hour care
  • you move your own stuff into your apartments, and can decorate it the way you want.
  • There is a big emphasis in the residents personal space, rather than the communal area, there is a very big contrast between them. The communal areas are very institutional.
  • One resident said “this is not a very good hospital, I’ve been here six months and i haven’t seen a doctor!” this shows her association with the home is a hospital.


Communical corridor looking like a hospital


In a personal Apartment

  • There 12 staff working during the day for 43 residents, only 2 at night
  • The staff never give up hope,they try to give the residents their individuality back.
  • They focus on their needs, gain their trust, and make sure they know its their home
  • Everyone’s rooms are very different, it is very important for people with dementia that they recognize it to be their own ‘home’
  • They have an old computer in the home at the moment that a few of the elderly use to play solitaire on it, they like it because it is similar to them but just in a new context. they know what to expect.
  • A lot of the residents have a heard of a computer, but they don’t know what it can do, but they are intrigued.


One of the residents looking at her photo’s on an iphone

  • Some of them are scared of using technology in case they do something wrong or embarrass themselves
  • The word media put a barrier between them, they don’t understand the ‘jargon’
  • The residents communicate with friends and family through the phone but are often limited because they need help from the staff
  • the residents are not all friends but they do take care of each other and know of each others needs, they build up their own social structures
  • When talking about bonds between the staff and residents,and when people die:

“sometime i want to cry, sometimes it’s a relief because i know the pain they have been through”

“some people do get a bigger part of your heart, its supposed to be professional, but you do get attached to people’

“It’s a professional job, they are not your family, but you still want to keep a family vibe”

After completing our insights we went on to analyze them to come up with need statements-see next post.

User research….working with the elderly

November 10, 2008

Today we started  a week where we will be focusing on skills that we can use to conduct user research and gain insights. The week is being run by Michelle, Oren and Elliot from Red Associates, a strategic design consultancy based in Copenhagen, Hamburg and New York. Throughout the morning we had presentations about different user research techniques and methodologies that can be used in the design process to gain insights. We discussed the pro’s and con’s of different tools ranging from cultural probes (originating from Bill Gaver and Tony Dunne) to Participant Observations. Although i have  extensively used, discussed and designed these tools and processes during my years as a designer it was still great to have discussions with people from more diverse backgrounds about them and to here their personal thoughts, especially when we went on to talk about specific case studies.

After some in depth discussion our task for the week was then revealed……

We will be visiting homes for the elderly to gain insights on the following topics:

  • What is important for the elderly and the staff in terms of the SOCIAL LIFE for the residents
  • What is important for the elderly and the staff in terms of improving PHYSICAL ACTIVITY for the residents
  • What is important for the elderly and the staff in terms of improving AUTONOMY for the residents.

After brainstorming why these themes are important and the difficulties that might arise regarding them….we split into groups and identified  ‘burning issues’ we would like to investigate relating to each theme, these were:

Social Life

  • What transition does someone go through when moving into the home. Does the organization help them feel integrated and socially excepted
  • What are the common grounds between residents that can act as a starting point or catalysts for social interaction
  • What are the issues surrounding relationships, privacy and trust between the residents and staff.
  • Facilitating the elderly to make social contributions, give them a sense of achievement and involvement.
  • Individuality…how does the resident keep their personality and individuality when they are dependent on others in a lot of areas in their life.

Physical Activity

  • What facilities do they have to allow physical activities, it is encouraged and make appealing to the residents.
  • How often do the elderly leave the home to go on visits of excursions….and see the real world- do they have an input into this.
  • How can physical constraints affect mobility, day to day activities and social interactions,is their stigma attached to it specifically within the home.
  • Issues surrounding rehabilitation and physiotherapy. Using exercises to help medical related problems. Choice and compatibility of exercise.


  • Can the residents have an input into their daily routine and make decisions about their day to day activities
  • What is the mindset of the residents do they enjoy being looked after by the carers or are they frustrated by their lack on independence
  • The residents have a lot of life experience and different competences, are they allowed to help other residents, in support or any other expertise they might have.
  • Do the residents feel  that the help they receive makes them feel ‘safe and supported’ or ‘controlled’

For each issue we created a series of questions to ask the staff and residents that will hopefully trigger thoughts and opinions when we are taking to them.

During our visits we will use other research techniques to engage with the residents and the front line staff to gain a deeper understanding and empathy for their experiences within the home. After gaining our insights we will analyze our findings and use them in our first GUI investigation that starts next week.

We will be visiting two different elderly homes tomorrow and wednesday, which will be great to make comparisons. I will report back soon!