Professor Alan Newell

Engaging with older users
Alan Newell & Maggie Morgan
Queen Mother Research Centre
School of Computing
University of Dundee
Scotland &
MM Training, Dundee
“Design and the
Digital Divide”
Insights from 40 years research
into computer support for
older and disabled people
Alan Newell
Published by Morgan and Claypool
Summer 2011
Maggie Morgan
MM Training
Script writer – theatre director
Leverhulme Artist in Residence,
in the School of Computing -2005/2006
Continuing freelance involvement
in the research, and conference
Technology for older people
Needs to be based on:
• Effective communication with the
user group,
• Proper requirements gathering,
• Usability and Beauty.
Developing technology for
older people
Study your
user population
Design your systems
to respond to their
needs and wants
What they need ?
A medical model of “cure”
A focus on the disability
Patronising design
Poor aesthetics
Ignorance of any wider context
What they want !
• A focus on the person
• Their emotional as well as
physical needs
• Aesthetics
• Self image
• Personality
Empathetic Design
Design for what
older users
- or might want
A primary focus on users
Mutual inspiration – users and
researchers in a creative mode
Innovative ways of interacting with
Real empathy with users
The challenges of
communicating with users
• Language and experience barriers
- jargon, concepts & metaphors
• Sensory impairments
Lack of trust in technology
Overriding desire to please
Keeping focus groups focused
Time consuming
Difficult to organize
Ethical issues
Negative self image
Lack of confidence
Self blame
Operational anxiety
Physical or mental fragility
Informed consent
A user centre
For a cohort of over
200 individuals rising
to over 3000
Also work in:
Dementia day centres,
Residential homes &
In home studies.
Wolfson Research Studio
Purpose designed for
interactive theatre
The use of theatre for:
• Facilitating Focus Groups of users
– Requirements gathering
• Communicating to designers and
other professionals
– User characteristics
– User experiences
– Ethnographies
Working with
theatre professionals
• Research by script writer
– iterative discussions with researchers
and older users.
• Dramatic scenarios developed.
• Scenarios performed by professional
actors, on video or live theatre.
• Facilitated discussions.
The performance
• Video scenario
+ facilitated discussion.
• Video scenario
+ actors in role in
facilitated discussion.
• Live interactive theatre
• Audience asked to analyse actions
and motivations of players
• “Hot seating”
• Scripted theatre followed by
improvisations directed by the
Educational Videos
“The UTOPIA Trilogy”
“Relative Confusion”, “Relatively PC”,
and others
Concept development
Applications of digital interactive
television for older people.
A communication system
Advantages for users.
• Users are engaged in creative
• Theatre liberates users to be creative
• Suspension of disbelief
– Future software
– The context/environment of use