Digital Sunset

A storytelling and video chat web platform 

UX designer

June 2020 - August 2020 (6 weeks)

4 designers 

Figma, Photoshop, Excel, Pen&Paper

Background

In the pandemic of COVID-19, we found that our grandparents or connections are suffering from isolation. Even ordinarily, the elderly population often has stagnant and insular friend groups and lacks a platform for meeting new people.

The Problem  

  • Many senior citizens currently suffer from isolation.

    • not living near their close family or friends

    • not having ways to meet new people   

  • Self-isolation limits their modes of communication.   

  • Digital platforms aren’t tailored to their needs.

    • lack of tech literacy

    • discomfort around technology  

The problem we aim to address is the social connectivity of elderly people. This is an especially important issue at the moment, as the social isolation imposed by the pandemic further limits their avenues to meet new people or reach out to old connections. By addressing the lack of robust and flexible social networks for the elderly community, we could alleviate the stress and loneliness of this population and help them choose to stay self-isolated and safe.

User Research

Contextual Interview 

For this interview, we aim to know how elderly people interact with other people, what they do in social interactions, and what they expect for their social life. We want to learn what type of social contacts they have: what types of friends they have, and their relationships with family. We also aim to learn how they currently connect with their old friends and expand their networks, how they feel about their social situations during the pandemic. In addition, we want to know what they expect about their social network, so we are able to come up with possible solutions. By interviewing people who are over 60 and are able to communicate, we want to get first-hand information about any issues prevalent in how the elderly community stays social and network with people of elderly people and any useful data we want to analyze later.

Data Analysis

After we carry out the contextual interviews and create session summaries, we create a set of activity notes based on the raw data, session summaries, and photo from the sessions. We work as a group to cluster the activity notes using affinity diagram, and interpret the clusters toward a set of synthesized themes or insights we extracted from the user research data. 

Key Insights 

  • Relationships with technology: Senior citizens often feel less comfortable with current technology due to their lapses in knowledge and familiarity.

  • Relating to others: A commonality is that the people we interviewed all desired communication to be as close as possible to in-person connection. They greatly valued being able to see others’ faces through video calls. A third regretted not being able to see their children’s faces because of the long distance.   

  • Everyday activitiesAnother common observation was that these senior citizens often lack things to do during the pandemic. In some cases this is because they lack hobbies, and in others their hobbies are no longer available.       

  • Relationships:  The two main social groups for senior citizens are their family and their close friends. Relationships with both of these have been greatly affected by the pandemic. The majority of interviewees expressed how important their relationships with their family were to them.

Persona

Design Ideation

Solution Space

Design Generation and Selection 

We all have our 20 ideas made into sticky notes on Figma, and then they are sorted according to the genre they belong to. see affinity diagram on Figma

When we have our preferred ideas ready, we look for the pros and cons of each idea, and similar products on the market that respond to our ideas. Some ideas aim at similar aspects, and for those we combine them so that our final idea would include more dimensions. In the end of the discussion, we all agree to take on the idea we deem practical and helpful to our persona group.

The solution we decided on is an app for reading interactive stories over video call. It allows senior citizens to bond with their grandchildren remotely in a way unique to digital communication. The app contains a library of stories which the participants can choose from to read that night. When a story is picked it will show up on each participant’s screen so they all see the same text and illustrations at the same time. In addition, each page or set of pages will come with interactive or multimedia elements. These can be images that are overlaid onto the video, sounds that are played, or filters applied to the users’ faces. These can also be interactions like drawing on each others’ video feed, or moving objects around the screen. The system will allow both grandparents and grandchildren to engage with the stories and create new stories together. 

Storyboard 

Picking a story to read 

Interacting with generated background

Flipping between pages

Interacting with character filters

Implementation

Paper Prototype 

User Flow

User Feedback 

In general, the feedback we received is positive. They like the idea of illustrations immensely, and enjoy the short length of passages in each page so that they do not feel bored. Also, not knowing how the story is going to end adds some fun and excitement to the reading process.

Negative responses we received centered around the interactive features of the app. The story is predetermined, so that it seems to be linear, when the participants want to advance it to a direction that they like. It would make sense to include more features to actually let the children handle the story. As for storytellers, telling stories on a digital media also makes them feel nervous sometimes.

They then went into great detail about how they want a sketching feature as most of their grandchildren’s interaction involved improvisation and imagination. They also went into how permanence and the ability to last long times is important to them as if there were a sketching feature, they would want to save and visit these sketches later. Improvisation and adapting to the imagination of small children was a key point that they thought that we could improve on in our app. 

Visual Design

Here is the UI Kit that I generated. #FEE09D, #9D9C62 and #A8C686 were used as the brand color because they are complimentary and analogous combinations and convey a relaxing and warm feeling. 

Color Scheme                                   Typography                               Spacing 

H1 Open Sans - Bold (96pt)

H2 Open Sans - Regular (72pt)

P1 Open Sans - Regular (48pt)

P2 Open Sans - Regular (30pt)

   Brand1          Brand2            Brand3           Primary        Secondary 

                                                                               text                 text   

30pt spacing 

28pt spacing 

24pt spacing 

12pt spacing 

Interaction 

We built a prototype in Figma that shows the features we incorporated for now and how users interact with the app.

Takeaways and Looking Forward

Digital Sunset is a creative product design project that incorporated AI element. Besides being designers, we also considered the feasibility and market potential of this product when we made our design decisions. We made this project fully remotely during this special time, and this enables to improve our team work skill and communication skill in a huge way. 

I became better at conducting the interview, practicing user research and creating a product from the users' perspective. Due to the time constraint, there are some features we considered but haven't implemented yet. In the future, we would like to conduct more iterative user testings refine high-fidelity prototype with better visuals. 

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