Empowering senior users to use web apps - Participatory Design
20-22% of the U.S. population will be over 65 by the year 2030, and their capabilities differ greatly from those of younger users. Age-related decline of both cognitive and physical ability has many implications for older generations’ technology use.
We use participatory design to create a interactive guidance sysytem for web apps. As user researcher and interaction designer, I worked on sketching, Wireframing, creation of user study protocols, creation of high fidelity, testing high fidelity prototype.
" I am teaching a class in NYC and I need to mark who is present in order to get paid, but I couldn’t understand how to do that. I almost called the school, but my husband, thankfully, was able to make it work." - User P.
Through our literature review
Older users are expected to understand and use web applications. Although some web applications contain help sections, it is a wall of text which does not selectively answer a user’s question. It may deter them from learning the application on their own and lead to reliance on family and friends.
Meet our User: P.
A 70 year old female who is an Art Therapist and Lecturer, and is an Apple user who owns an Apple watch, Macbook, and an iPhone .She states her comfort level with technology as a 3 out of 5.
Use case and context
Paula has started to lecture at the School of the Visual Arts in New York City. Upon her first lecture she needed to learn how to use Canvas, and the Google Suite. In using both she is constantly frustrated. She was expected to learn these applications and use them on her own. Usually, she is under a deadline to complete specific tasks, like create a Google Slides presentation, or update a Google Doc.
To solve the issues like cognitive load , unfamiliarity with web apps and lack of guidance or help suited for older adults while using web apps, we created an interactive web based helper using collaborative design. We used the Google Docs web app use case for designing and testing our helper as our participant has use for it.
Why Collaborative Design
In creating an interface for older users, collaborative design is essential to success. In D. Hawthorn’s article Interface design and engagement with older people, researchers attempted to develop a successful interactive tutorial for older people. Throughout their design process, the researchers found large and unexpected inconsistencies in the designers’ assumptions and the way senior users interact with a system, further driving in the point that stakeholder participation in this context is vitally important.
Why interactive web-based helper
We conducted an unstructured user interview session to find out their use of technology, their habits, what works for them and what does not. Our key findings:
We created seven sketches for product ideas.
We also defined 3 core tasks for our users
Further, we choose 2 sketches to add interaction for the tasks. The first sketch was an unobtrusive way to enable the user to interact with the bot on screen. This version also allowed the user to quickly recall the last conversations in case they needed to reference them. We chose sketch six, because we wanted to test how the user would react to the chatbot being accessible via right click, and how intense they wanted an overlay on the screen. For reviewing the wireframes with our users, we created 2 task- based wireflows.
Low Fidelity Prototypes
Aim was to meet user needs and define a good product concept
Low Fidelity :One
Low_Fi : Two
For the session protocol, our findings for the design:
The session took 46 minutes and we recorded the data by taking notes. Our session protocol and session notes:
Building High Fidelity Prototype
We created a storyboard to present user intents, user flow and user context.
Combining ideas from both the low fidelity prototype and its design review, we created a interactive high fidelity prototype. Aim was to improve the interaction design
Highlights of our high fidelity prototype:
Review of our high-fidelity prototype:
By creating a detailed prototype, we uncovered that
We focused on understanding the chatbot interactions and user acceptance. Further steps include studying chatbot help for different kinds of web applications. Limitations being that we only considered three tasks for our product. We also designed the Agent for Google Drive and Docs only. We learned that testing at each level of design is crucial to improving the underlying product.