Runner Up

March 2020

COVID-19

Designer

Samantha Langstein

Skills

  • Interaction Design
  • Product Design
  • Prototyping
  • UX/UI
  • UX/UI
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Challenge

Problem

Many senior citizens live alone and depend on senior centers for social interaction and daily structure. However, social distancing measures have brought all social activities to a halt, posing a new risk of isolation. How might we increase social engagement for homebound senior citizens?

Insight

Millennials stuck at home are seeking ways to give back to the community and connect with others. Connecting tech-savvy millennials with senior citizens would create a mutually beneficial relationship, and help to combat the negative effects of social isolation.

Solution

Create a mobile app that connects isolated senior citizens with altruistic millennials. Senior citizens can request calls from these companions, who will in turn coordinate and facilitate video chats. Senior citizens can specify call lengths, caller gender, and language spoken.

Process

Of the multitude of issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I opted to solve for isolation of the elderly for two main reasons: (1) it would not require government assistance and (2) the internet is a proven connector of people. I read news articles painting bleak pictures of senior citizens being told by their local senior centers that all activities had been cancelled until further notice. I came up with a hypothesis that senior citizens who live alone could benefit from video calls with charitable strangers. After encouraging calls with my peers who were eager to participate, I created a persona of a senior and created a user flow of how they would request a video call. I adapted features from dating apps in my initial sketches and wireframes with a few key changes. The seniors would have to connect with their first match before being given a second one, and the matches must make the video calls. This would minimize steps for seniors and prevent them from placing unanswered calls.

Design System

I used red-orange for buttons and the progress bar to symbolize the vitality and warmth associated with human connection. The text is in dark blue to emphasize the sincerity behind the app and the companions. The senior citizens sign up and log in with Facebook because many of them have accounts and it will spare them the trouble of filling out basic information such as their name, phone number, and profile picture. The key feature I focused on was requesting a call from a companion. Because the companions likely have busy schedules of their own, I wanted them to be the ones to call the senior citizens who would have more scheduling flexibility. Once the request is sent, the senior is notified and prompted to send an introductory text message. If given more time, I would build out the user journey and screens for the companions's end of the app. I would also conduct remote usability tests to validate my assumption that these calls would solve the problem of isolation of the elderly.