43 Year Old Moves Into A Retirement Community

We frequently use the IDEO Method Cards to inspire our curiosity and to refresh our insights in order to bring readers innovative ideas to thrive at home, connect to community and fortify personal independence.


We discovered an excellent example of two user-insight methods put into practice, Try It Yourself and Rapid Ethnography, by Steve Gurney, who at the age of 43 moved into a senior living community to experience the transition into, and the daily life in a retirement community. Even though we would expect, as the publisher of the Sourcebook, a guide to help seniors and their families make important housing decisions, he would have enough insight already. But in order to gain first hand experience, and to better inform his work with families he immersed himself in the experience of the products and services of a retirement community.


Steve Gurney documented his experience at his blog, Everyone is Aging, which also includes video diary entries.

What would it look like if we spent more time using the products or services we are designing, selling, and marketing.  This is an especially important question if you would not normally use that product or service? How can you develop a deep firsthand understanding of the people you serve?

Let us know what methods you used, what outcomes or insights you gained and how it innovated the way you do business.

Are you a Design Thinker?

According to a recent post from the New York Times technology writer, David Pogue, some manufacturers of digital picture frames need to improve their product development process and perhaps take an introductory course on user-centered design. Pogue’s recommendation to improve design probably applies to all product manufacturers. Following are questions #1 and #2 from Pogue’s quiz to determine one’s design skills. Here is the full quiz.

Question 1: Which is right: to build in a power switch (as on the frames from Kodak and iMate), so you can turn the frame off at night? Or to omit the power switch, so that your customers have to crawl on the floor to unplug the whole thing (as on the eStarling and others)?

Question 2: Which is the right design for a Wi-Fi frame: to display the names of available wireless networks screen for your selection (Kodak and iMate Momento)? Or to require you to connect the frame to a computer with a U.S.B. cord, download a piece of network-sniffing software from a Web site, and use that to display the names of available networks (like the eStarling)?

What are your results for the remainder of the quiz? Would you rate yourself as a natural designer, savvy user or perpetrator of bad design decisions?