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Older people as equal partners in the creative design of digital devices

Sustar, Helena (2011). Older people as equal partners in the creative design of digital devices. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis describes research which explores the importance and feasibility of involving older people as equal partners in the creative design of digital devices for an ageing population. In exploring this topic, I have carried out two preliminary studies, a pilot study and a major empirical study.

Firstly, I invited three groups of people, including very old people, active older people and postgraduate students, to evaluate a mock-­‐up model of an interactive device intended for older people that was designed using a standard design process. The results of this study suggested that products without an adequate contribution from older people would not always meet their needs.

Secondly, I carried out observations of very old people, active older people, and young designers to identify factors that influence the way in which both older people and young designers can be involved in the creative design process. These factors included experiences with technology, processes and approaches currently applied with older people and designers, factors that stimulate or inhibit creativity, and practical constraints such as health issues. The results of these observations fed into the design of a pilot study, where I tested the content of a creative design process and a procedure for analysing data for the main empirical study.

The main study involved three creative workshops where the same creative methods were employed with different sets of people: young designers, mixed groups (with older people and designers) and older people only. The results show that older people are able to participate in a creative design process; however, certain practical constraints have to be taken into account. Also, older people perform better when they work together with designers. Finally, the mixed groups with older people, who have relevant life experiences, and designers, who are familiar with the newest technology, may be more suitable for designing appropriate products for the older population.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher Keywords: creativity; older people; user centred design; evaluations; observations; creative design process
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > Computer Science > Human Computer Interaction Design
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
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