USING NARRATIVES & CRAFT TO STRENGTHEN
This case study focuses on providing a service that strengthens the relationship between senior adults and children. It aims to discover a path that can provide mental wellness to both the age groups. The project was carried out by a team of five people. I was primarily responsible for user research, user testing, and product development. I worked in collaboration on the Low-Fi & Hi-Fi prototypes as well. The project was executed in cooperation with R/GA.
Narratives Connecting Generations
The absence of social connection resulted in over 40% of senior adults in the UK feeling isolated all the time. This project intends to design a system that provides support for senior adults by helping them build a stronger social connection.
Our primary research manifested that intergenerational connections positively impact each one of those involved in the process. It is seen that intergenerational connections present a recurring example of love, care and support among associated individuals. Seniors who are close to their grandkids are often found healthier, less lonely, and more connected with their surroundings. Similarly, children involved in intergenerational activities see improved social aptitudes and greater steadiness in their day to day lives, which help them do well in school and avoid negative influences.
In order to empathize with both the target groups (seniors & children), different feedback methodologies were used, such as, storytelling, observation, diary mapping, game & getting feedback method. Based on the responses received, we formulated questions for online and personal interviews that were conducted with 32 senior people and 23 children.
Using the data from the results extracted from interviews, we defined two target group profiles (Ron (Retired Senior, 68) and Jeff (Student, 11)) to better empathize with our main user group and prioritize goals according to their needs.
We used speed dating method (which basically tests initial ideas by providing a taste of a possible future to the potential user) to test our initial concepts. This method helped us to focus on ideas which truly had the potential to work for our target group.
Our idea involved two user groups, first senior adults from nursing homes and second primary school children. In order to visualize and make the idea more tangible, we outlined individual steps that a user makes during the course. The core value of our design was to strengthen the bond between both the user groups through an emotionally rich relationship mediating artefact, i.e. a pop-up book made by children based on the stories of the seniors.
All the steps involved various material on different stages, such as use of the topic cards (Ex: "Tell us about the neighbourhood you grew up in...") to help seniors remember stories from various life events. Similarly the use of instruction booklet, pop-up book template and material to learn pop-up book making.
After gaining a better understanding of our target user groups and analysing the challenges we brainstormed to gather opportunities.
A user testing workshop was conducted to test the idea on the mockup stage. The workshop provided utilitarian feedback, which leads us to revise the focus user group from senior adults in nursing homes to grandparents and their grandchildren, as the core value of our idea aligns well to strengthen the rich bond of grandparents and kids.
Our research manifested signs of sense of purpose in grandparents by bonding with grandchildren and the process of storytelling provides them with cognitive stimulation which helps improve their mental health. Similarly, creative art-making and deep interaction with grandparents help in the holistic development of children which ultimately improves their self-esteem. In the revised flow, a step was added to allow storing this whole experience digitally using photogrammetry to resonant with the artefact and story in future.
The process of making is the spine of our idea, hence we looked at it from a very detailed viewpoint. We worked at various elements and interactive components which can be provided in the template to facilitate a smooth pop-up book experience. We crafted various elements for the pop-up book considering various parts of a story, such as an expanded map, a rotary wheel, photo albums, slide bars, moving transport, waterfall cards etc. These elements could be used in various ways to express a story.
Process of the book
Storytelling and making experience
Based on the insights gained from the research content, competitor analyzes and feedback from potential users, we defined the sitemap.
Pop-up Book Kit
The digital platform facilitated two main functionalities, shopping the customised kit by choosing the components after checking digital layout of the book and storing this whole experience digitally using photogrammetry to resonant with the artefact and story in future.
Components for the Pop-up Book
Tips for making the pop-up book and to facilitate the storytelling process
After some paper prototyping adjustments, wireframes, mid- and high-fidelity prototypes were created. Where, user tests revealed small vulnerabilities in the structure of the user interface, in some formulations and interactions.
Wireframing, Prototyping & Usability-Testing
Low-fidelity paper prototypes helped us to plan functionalities and the general structure of the application could easily be tested in usability tests. Without much effort, adjustments could be made before going into the hi-fi prototype stage.
Various studies show that the process of storytelling and making craft helps people cope with managing stress and anxiety. The core value of this project was to strengthen the bond between grandparents and grandkids through an emotionally rich relationship mediating experience by the medium of storytelling and craft-making therapy. I see here the great opportunity of digitization, that gives people the opportunity to preserve this experience in a more accessible form and revisit later on. Due to the complexity of the project and the demanding course plan, we were able to implement hardly any major adjustments to the concept in a short time. I think there was a great scope of digital solutions for the elderly to be able to intervene in the whole process.
Changes I would make if there was more time available:
Further development of the digital solution with respect to the elderly
More extensive research, involving various other research methods, as it‘s a complex and extensive topic with many factors
More refined and interactive hi-fidelity prototypes
Further user test phases with interactive prototype and workshops to better understand product-people interaction
More User Testing Phases: Looking back, I would definitely prefer doing user testing at various steps of the whole design process, as I felt it is very important to keep getting feedback from the people for whom you are designing the experience.
Well-rounded research: Well, we spent a major percentage of the time doing research ('never-ending' process). But I felt we should have gone wider than deeper in the research for this particular project, as it required considering various angles and surrounding factors.
Thoughtful time distribution: As I said earlier, we spent a considerable amount of time doing research. Hence, I realised there was comparatively very little time for the prototyping phase. We could have planned a finer time distribution to give to each phase.
Journey mapping is beneficial: For a complex case study like this, Journey mapping is very helpful, it helps to map out a comprehensive process and to discover challenging points and opportunities.
Images used in the case study are credited to Pexels
Online team collaboration was facilitated by Miro
Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD and After Effects were used to develop prototypes and videos.
Many people have influenced the shape and content of this project and have supported us throughout this journey. I would like to thank each and every one of them for the support and guidance.