What is LEAVES?
You might have read about LEAVES before, an interdisciplinary project between healthcare professionals, designers and developers. The subject is addressed through a multi-national lens, with a team comprised of people from Switzerland, Portugal and the Netherlands.
The service helps senior citizens deal with the loss of their spouse. More precisely, LEAVES supports the grieving process and helps preventing prolonged grief disorder (PGD). The service entails a questionnaire that helps to detect individuals in need of further support and points them towards professional help.
The LEAVES grieving support is built around four modules designed with resources revolving around grief processing:
- Study module: A series of courses and exercises around the theme of grief and healing, where users can learn more about the grieving process and what they are going through.
- Notebook module: A logbook in which the users can write thoughts and feelings and come back to them later in time to assess their personal evolution.
- Activities module: A number of activities designed to increase wellbeing, such as taking a short walk or calling a friend.
- My support module: A directory of people (personal contacts or public helplines) to reach out to in difficult moments, accessible anytime and particularly times of distress.
Testing to tend to the needs of the elderly
Designing digital services for the elderly presents with different challenges than the design process for digital natives, as the former process content and interactions in digital services more slowly. We therefore built our prototype with this assumption in mind even before the initial testing. This allowed us to focus our user-testing efforts around LEAVE’s visual design and content instead of information processing abilities.
All in all, the user-testing we led for each iteration of the LEAVES service proved considerable in the reduction of user frustration with the end product.
Evaluating basic interface and interactions in the prototype
The user interviews raised some digital literacy questions, as the LEAVES users are at least 60 years old. This means some users were quite proficient at using technology, while others were mostly unfamiliar with the use of digital services. The user interviews also allowed to improve the information architecture in ways more adapted to the elderly’s needs to make the service helpful and complete in their eyes. Particular attention was paid to reducing confusion and increasing explicitness in the service. For example, vocabulary changes were introduced after an iteration to clarify what action each button would trigger. In the onboarding, the number of total steps required and the stage the user is at is now made more explicit in the design. With their feedback, we were able to improve the study module of the LEAVES service and meet their needs more directly.
Further testings lie ahead throughout the year 2021, followed by clinical trials in 2022-2023.
The potential fields of application of an online service dedicated to the grief process for the elderly go well beyond prolonged grief. Potential LEAVES iterations could find application in grief in earlier stages in life or divorce-related grief
We are looking forward to using our acquired knowledge to propose innovative design solutions; stay tuned for the next updates!