The Sports Class that Became a Family

user research impression

Once upon a time, there was a group of people, who lived in a small town in an industrialised part of the Netherlands. They were all older than 60 years, some of them even in their 80’s. They told a story about how they were going to sports clubs and classes, and how the people there became their close friends, sometimes as close as family. They spoke about the difficulty they could sometimes have in getting to the class, or how they would forget. Then these people told us about this magic box, that would alert the sports club of members who wanted to come but could not, and that friends would then call them or pick them up. That the magic box would arrange for carpools and shopping to be done by their sports friends, all at times when these friends were going anyway. And how they were happy with the possibility to do the same thing for someone else another time.

For a company that is relatively new to user experience design and user research, I helped prepare a session with a group of elderly people. The goal of the session was to get ideas for a social networking tool for elderly, and how and why they would use it.

We used the Business Origami technique, because next to talking about subjects, this also gives a visual representation in real-time. Besides, the company I was working with did not yet have a user scenario, and Business origami can deliver that. The structure was to first have a short individual brainstorm about independence and getting older, then choosing the most important topic group. After a short break the participants would tell stories of their current situations, represented by the paper Business Origami figures, followed by building a few scenarios where a ‘magic box’ was able to help them. I explained this method on cards, in the following way:

Inclusive Design Toolbox _overview

For each part of the process (prepare, hear, understand) there were other cards with useful templates and tips, such as a ready-made consent form, or a to-do list for the next phase of the development project. The cards worked well for my client, with an overview first and then more detail later when they were actually preparing the session.

Some more impressions from the session:

IMG_0253IMG_0248 IMG_0257

To reflect on the Business Origami method, I thought it was nice to have a physical representation of the story, this made it more tangible and easier to refer back to things said. The basic structure of the session can be found in many other methods: First talk about the current situation, then introduce your new concept and talk about how that would work in the participant’s life.

It was great that there was a ready-made pack of paper figures available to print. At the same time, I thought the graphics were a bit boring and because they are all different sizes, take a long time to cut out. But perhaps most importantly, the participants never actually touched the paper figures and just sat back and watched me arrange them and write, while they talked. Right now I do not have a solution or a better method, but I think ideally the method would require participants to interact a bit more.

Please tell me what you think!

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