Here at AC4D, we are in our 6th week of ideating and creating a design solution to address social issues each of our groups found in research. As of last week, our team, (Maryanne Lee, Laura Galos) decided to move forward with a concept called (working title) “Meaningful Mail.” This is a service that lets family members, from the web, introduce difficult aging-related conversations with elderly family members by sending them conversation prompts and letters through the mail. The conversation prompts cover topics from limiting driving, living arrangements, and finance, to sharing memories and stories. Our goal with this service is to open channels of communication among family members, so that as they progressively move toward harder topics and decisions, there is already an underlying foundation of interchange, honesty, and emotional safety.
Aside from needing to come up with a more permanent name, this week we began shaping what this service might look like, particularly the web interface that family members would interact with to choose prompts, write letters, and send their communications.
In our first iteration, we sketched out general features we’d want the site to have. These sketches served to work out some high-level functions of the site and of the service. However, there are too many features to start with, and we want to slim down our product to the essential flows to test and build upon.
High-level wireframes, iteration 1:
For this coming week, we want to design the main flows for Meaningful Mail in wireframe format. Since this is a web-based idea, we will sketch out what might be on each screen as users click through the site. We will be conducting think-aloud testing on these flows (where users talk us though what they’re doing “stream-of-consciousness”-style) to see how users can or cannot complete tasks, their expectations around how tasks can be accomplished, and how they feel as they move through the system.
In the meantime, at a more granular level, we’re also interested in approaches to the landing page. Because we feel that users will need to quickly gain understanding of the service we’re providing before they decide to engage with it, we tested five landing pages to see which communicated the intent behind our service most rapidly and enjoyably. Some landing pages explain the process, some put users in the middle of the process, and some communicate the outcome of the process.
Landing Page approaches:
In testing these pages with potential users, we found that the pages that showed the steps of the process were preferred. The steps gave users enough background information on the service while also making the process of using Meaningful Mail seem easy to accomplish. We will also continue to test approaches to the landing page with potential users as we explore wireframe flows.
The most surprising piece of feedback we heard over the last two weeks was how much the service might change not just the elderly individual’s behavior, but also how much it makes the family member (who sends the letters) feel like it changes them as well. A few of our participants told us that the service would make them more empathetic and understanding of what the elderly family member is going through, and how sending something as thoughtful as a letter would make them feel like they were really doing something of value for their loved one. Much of the earlier conversations we had with family members in the “caregiver” role centered on how they might effectively convince the elderly to change their behavior, such as limiting driving. However, we are interested and excited to hear that our design may not only help people make those tough aging-related decisions, but also build understanding between both players as well.