From Three Hundred to One

Over the course of Q2 at Austin Center for Design, our team, (Lindsay Josal, Maryanne Lee, and Laura Galos) conducted qualitative research focused on issues in longer life expectancy. In particular, we learned from our research participants the impact that aging has on finances, health care and family relationships. After an eight week process of research and synthesis, our team identified six insights and four design implications that we used to generate design ideas to address some of the challenges our participants shared with us.

One insight we found during the research process is that the idea of “retirement” is an overpromised fantasy. Many participants held a positive view of retirement as a time that should be carefree and relaxing, though the reality was often marred by physical ills and the stressors of aging. We also found that without hobbies and social activities, individuals leaving the workforce lose their sense of purpose with negative physical and mental repercussions.

Once we developed our insights, our team responded to these issues by generating three hundred design ideas.

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A ton of design ideas.

Then came the difficult process of down-selection. Our team began with 300 ideas, and reduced them to 10. Once we sketched out storyboards for this initial selection, we cut them down to 3. Down-selection was no easy task for our team. We had grown to love many of the ideas we had created and seeing them narrowed down so quickly proved to be emotionally difficult. We wondered whether we had chosen the “right” ideas, and if they would address the challenges we had found in our research.

Looking back, our process for down-selecting our design ideas was not at all as arbitrary as it felt. We used scenarios, concept maps and storyboards to help us work through how these ideas would come to life, but also used the following criteria:

  • Expense – How much would it cost for us to actually bring the idea to life?
  • Time constraint – The ability to make the largest impact on our problem space in 8 weeks
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Concept Map
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Storyboards & Scenarios

As of Saturday evening, our team has focused on a single design idea: a communication tool that helps caregivers and families have necessary but difficult conversations with the elderly (on topics such as driving cessation). Our task for this week is to design the interface for our idea (at the moment, this means screens) and to plan initial testing with potential users.

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Final Selected Design Idea