Discovering insights through qualitative research

It is sad to reach a certain age and feel increasingly excluded from society. So I wondered what it would be like to reach this age, what problems they face and what we could do to improve their quality of life.

Sometimes we forget that we are all going to become elders and it is important to give a better quality of life to this population. So I did some research to better understand their needs.
My role


Conduct a research to identify opportunities that could help improve the quality of life of people over 70 years old.

Understanding and research

First I did secondary research to understand the psychological aspects in adulthood, the main problems they face and patterns of this generation. I also did some observational field research in nursing homes, beauty salons and supermarkets to identify genuine behaviours. These are some of the main findings.
  • The issue of loneliness and abandonment is often mentioned. A large majority of seniors are widowers, which intensifies the need for affection and the feeling of loneliness.

    Secondary research
  • There is a clear need for seniors to interact with others and entertain themselves in their extensive free time.

  • It is very easy to establish a conversation with an elder. On two occasions I just stood next to them and they started talking to me. You can tell that they want to interact with others.


Identifying extremes

I used this method in order to stretch my research and select the users I wanted to interview. This allows me to identify interesting insights to come up with more creative solutions. I decided to use the wisdom level parameter to explore further their desire to interact with other people and their willingness to give advice to anyone who needs it.

Building empathy

It is important to go beyond observation and built empathy with the people you are designing for. I wrote a series of feelings and some ideas to live an emotional experience. I combined some of these ideas and put myself in pretty uncomfortable situations.

Making sense of the research

It was time to put all my findings on the table and look for interesting data.  I used colour coding to distinguish between the quotes from the interviews and my own interpretations and observations.. This was important to avoid relying my conclusions only on my personal interpretations.

From findings to insights

After grouping and rearranging the data in different ways, I came up with two insights. In the following image you can see the main quotes, interpretations and images that helped me to come up with my two insights. All the information was valuable to create the insights, but these were some aha! moments in my research.

Opportunity statement

The final result of this research is a How Might We statement that will unleash creativity for the ideation phase.

Project learnings

1. Research to find a purpose
We often focus too much on delivering a final product and disregard the importance of research. The end result of this project is only the beginning of something bigger, however it is a good starting point for working from facts, not assumptions. This will give meaning and purpose to our work at the ideation stage.

2. Empathise to spark creativity
Engaging the people who will work on the solution in living emotional experiences, helps to build a common motivation to solve a problem. Emotional experiences are an inspiring means of building creative solutions.  I experienced this personally, where I had to feel vulnerable, listen and observe in order to understand what the elderly need.
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