Story is a platform designed to create meaningful relationships between staff and residents at assisted living by encouraging them to share and see the unique stories from each other. Our goal is to provide a safe and open mind space for users to overlook the conflicts they have in person, and learn about each other with a fresh heart through the stories they shared.

Team: Ann Lei, Chloe Liang, Roz Hillenbrand

Responsibilities: UX Research, Concept Development, Ideation, Information Architecture, User Interface Design, User Experience Design, Prototype

Timeline: 10 weeks

Software: Miro, Figma

The Challenge

How might we encourage meaningful social interactions between assisted living residents, who are cognitively capable and technologically comfortable, and the staff that cares for them?

resident's platform using ipad. Home page mockup


Secondary Research

We found out elderly are experiencing increased loneliness, isolation, and abuse, especially the ones that live in senior assisted living. In addition, due to being unfamiliar with technology, elderly frequently feel emotionally distanced in absence from families. These are all huge factors for depression and cognitive disorders for elderly, especially when it associates with a lack of physical activity. Living with other people is hard. It is even harder when it comes to living with strangers with different habits that have been established for years and are impossible to be changed.

On the other hand, staff of assisted living tends to have fears, misconceptions, and concerns when it comes to patients with uncommon characteristics or diseases. However, the facilities do not have the skills and training to deal with the issue at the moment. Moreover, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, since elderly are at the highest risk, staff are more fearful to be in contact with them and feel reluctant to be at work. It is sad that sometimes staff forgets that the residents are people who had a whole life before moving in the assisted living.

interview findings grouping with sticky notes

Contextual Inquiries and Interviews

We started with trying to understand the state of mental well being in elderly communities in assisted living facilities as related to their understanding of home. We conducted contextual inquiriesand interviews with the director of operation, residents, and family members. We found three main insights:

1. Staff and resident community relationships are often strained.

“How do we protect our staff from residents that might call them derogatory names.” - Director of Operations

2. Technology is underutilized because it seems just too complicated for elderly.

"It's a huge struggle for family and residents. I’m getting heart breaking stories where the family members can’t connect and I get a call from a family member that their mom's memory is going every day and she won't remember who their children are by the time they get there." - Family Member

3. Staff don't see residents as people, but parts of an assembly line.

“Saying to the staff, yes, you’re looking at a frail 87 year old but they had a whole life before getting here." - Director of Operations
No items found.
Daryl Fellows | Development Services Supervisor
Lucette Ramirez | Communications Officer

Ideation & Downselection


Based on our design challenges, we came up with a total 92 ideas and assigned colored dots to them as the initial downselection method. Green dots were assigned for the ideas that better address our design problems and represent the four design principles, which is Accessible & Inclusive, Respectful & Thoughtful, Already in Use Technology, and Humanize. Red dots were assigned to the ones we thought were not well aligned with the problem space and desired outcome.


We grouped those selected ideas into 7 categories according to their core concepts and downselected to three concepts. We prioritized Personalization, Physical Environment, and Information Display since these categories excited us the most and have the most potential in the problem space. After testing and receiving feedbacks from others, we evaluated and downselected to one concept, e-paper, based on the research, insights, and feedback we got.

No items found.

Design Process

Our initial design is a three part concept including a tablet used by residents and a mobile app for staff which will be expressed on an interactive wall within the facility. We acknowledged that different stakeholders have different experiences and needs, that's why we decided to start with two platforms that are the most convenience for the individual and a space to connect both groups. We conducted an early validation usability test in low-fidelity paper prototype to better understand if the key aspects of our concept works well independently and together. The topic areas that our lines of questioning covered were Interaction expectations, Technological comfortability, and Social relationships.

Initial Concept Key Findings

Through testing four participants with multi-faceted backgrounds and discussion with the cohort, we found some insights and improvements that we can work on:

1. Understanding each other’s backgrounds and histories can help to explain who they are.  

“I feel like I’m participating in community building.” - Prototype Test Participant #2

2. Important to limit steps in which users may be deterred from submitting.

3. Appreciation of others’ stories is critical without creating popularity contests.

"If I saw someone else’s story received a lot of likes. I might feel pressured." - Prototype Test Participant #3

During the user testing, we are able to confirm having three platform was the right direction moving forward, as well as to discover some key findings about how people feel about the concept and how would that affect their mental states. This helped us better refine the concept that instead of making the platform feeling like a social media, we wanted it to be more intention about the content that is showed on the platform. It should be an open space for people to enjoy sharing stories without comparing with others.

usability testing sticky notes

Informational Architecture

We developed a detailed information architecture to visualize the detail features we're looking in the platform and how the pages are connected. This helped us better understand the whole picture of the system and identify the missing parts, as well as refine the approach of our new design solution.


Key Features

1. E-paper for resident

The main feature in the e-paper is to share meaningful stories with the community. We provide prompts to give incentives for users to share more unique stories. We prioritized accessibility for elderly to easily put down stories with voice recording, as well as allow users to adjust text sizes with the button on the left side. And with the AI engine filter, we make sure the stories that are shared on the wall are respectful.

2. Staff Portal

For the staff portal, we recognized that cell phone is the object staff uses the most. We decided to create this app for them to access the platform as convenient as possible. We provided two ways for them to view the story, by text and by visual bubble format. Easily share and view stories through their phone, and a direct access to their patients.

3.Community Interactive Wall

The community wall is an interactive wall that would be projected in a space of the facility, with the stories staff and resident shared, we created this space for them to interact with each other and build a stronger connection. In addition, we designed a pull down feature that allows equitable access to the bubbles at a variety of seating or standing perspectives.

Color Study

The platform color design are accessible for people who are visually impaired. The color contrast guideline shows that 18 point regular is consider large text and all of our text size for the tabloid version is over 30. As it for the color, I acknowledged that it will always be hard to use color as an indicator for elderly or people who are visually impaired as a differentiator. That’s why I decided to add patterns on top of color to show different moods.

Reflections & Further Considerations