Bettering the shopping experience for elders whilst in a Pandemic

Problem:  How do we design an app suitable for someone 65+ (not tech savy) to use to order their shopping whilst cocooning?

This project was introduced by Supervalu Musgraves which, entailed having to create a digital product to enhance a customers shopping experience,  for a designated audience. In this case it was for those 65+. 

Research: Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to investigate this topic.

I looked into inclusive design and what it meant. I stumbled upon Kat Holmes whilst watching a ted talk about designing for inclusivity. She has worked for many companies such as Google and Microsoft with multidisciplinary teams to set a foundation for why designing with excluded communities drives better solutions for everyone. “Inclusive Design is designing a range of ways for people to participate an experience . It allows all to have a sense of belonging and it starts with looking at those most excluded.” I really liked her definition of inclusive design, and used it to fuel my research when focusing on one of the most excluded groups in technological advances, the over 65s.

Who are the 65+ users?

When given this project and my designated interviewee, I was expecting a low abled elder, with extreme sight and hearing loss, which would have made the aim of the project that much clearer. However, these were misconceptions. From the research I discovered that…

They are a growing population with  to 1.6 million people expected to be over 80 by 2040. They do have poor but not extreme,  eyesight due to ageing with the NCBI  stating poor eyesight is most prevalent in those 65+ year olds.

Many do have impaired senses and problems etc  but these do not define them. They have hobbies, families and some use the internet and Facebook like you. After questioning more elders it was clear that what is different is their take on technology and their thinking process around it. Not all elders have learnt the lingo of apps or the internet. How can we expect the usual apps designed for the average user, to be a delightful experience for them, when they are not the average user? Not many pathways have been designed for them to enter the online world. Informative, transparent onboarding can help to combat this issue.

An important thing to tackle is the attitudes elders have to technology. From talking to elders it was clear they do have a different attitude towards technology. Many don’t see the true value of technology because they don’t understand it. I read some articles in relation to this where elders gave their take on how elders use technology. Computers and other technologies were easy to “screw up” at the beginning. Mistakes were not easily undone. The language often not transparent or assessable because it was “computer jargin”. Younger ages are fearless when testing out new gadgets and the older generation are more fearful. Their attitudes can be built on fear and habits.


 However that attitude is shifting but may still lie in some as we know elders use technology. The elder generation use Facebook the most out of any other generation in Ireland. My nanny has Facebook but it took us a few years for us to convince her to get on it.  I remember setting her up on it and how insecure she was about the process and not knowing what to do . Wouldn’t it be neat if she could have been given some sort of manual about how to begin so she would have the option to try start up herself? Be independent? Then maybe she would have felt more confident in seeking help in setting up. This is where onboarding could solve this issue. It would inform the user about, how to use the app, why it is beneficial for them whilst highlighting the ‘escape buttons’.