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Service Design / Older generation


Project Brief 

We worked with Camden Council to support frontline staff, empower neighbours, and support multi-actor collaboration in their spaces for tackling social and environmental sustainability challenges.

Under the scope, we worked on bringing connection to socially isolated older people in Camden Borough.


Feb-June, 2020


Camden Council


Older people (+65) who live alone

My role


UX Designer


1 Business Analyst

2 UX Designer


We focused on older people (65+) who live alone in Camden and suffer from social isolation.

We first delved into the community centres where provide a variety of events for older people, proposing a service that can boost the social connection by creating a welcoming environment that makes newcomer feel involved and distribute the burden of service providers.

However, after the outbreak of COVID-19, community centres are closed and services are moving online,

and therefore, we had to pivot our service proposition for this challenging situation.

Final Proposal

To break through the changing situation and tackle the deteriorating social isolation problems among the elderly, we created an app - Tapit that allows family members to engage older people (65+) in the digital world remotely in a comfortable way.

  1. We reached out to 32 potential customers to test our App and nearly 75% of participants are willing to use our App with high satisfaction.

  2. This project got selected in InnovationRCA as a project with investment potential.

Design Approach
Digital exclusion in Covid-19 pandemic

According to AgeUK, 36% older people stay digital exclusion. After the outbreak of COVID-19, services are moving online while the elderly who don’t have good digital literacy cannot access these online supports. Due to the situation, we recognise how important it is to improve digital engagement among older people. 

Living alone

In Camden, there are 43% older people living alone. Their children/ grandchildren usually live apart from them and worry about their well-being, while it is hard to help the older people and instruct them to use online services remotely.


Through our primary and desk research, We found the difficulty for older people to get online is not about devices but is that they don’t know how to access the internet with their smartphones


We then defined the barriers to improve the digital engagement among older people.

How might we help socially isolated older people who live alone to access online services through developing their digital literacy with family members in an efficient way? 


We designed Tapit, helping children instruct older people how to get online remotely through "red dots" instruction on the screen.

We developed this idea from existing technology “heatmap”, and transformed it into red dots to guide the older people.

Prototype & Test
Spreading survey to test the engagement.

Older people tend to hold the phone far away, so we had to remind them to open the speaker in the user flow.

Observing how older people react to red dots through app Hi-fi prototpye.

We removed Tap on the red dot to avoid confusion, and add button to stop sharing screen for security and privacy concern. 

Using Zoom to do remote usability testing and get feedback.

Most of the users want to instruct their family to use online shopping and online banking, while fraud and untrust to online payment are the main barriers.


After 3 rounds of remote user testing with 32 users,  we iterated our interface for a more pleasant and easier experience for the elder users.

01 Adapt to the way that
older people use the phone with a clear reminder.
02 Show the current status clearly and remove the redundant explanations.
03 Add an online services page to facilitate older people to use online services by following children's instructions.
Service proposal

As older people are more willing to learn how to use the online services when their children introduce them,

we set up a search service container only in the children’s interface. If children find something they want to recommend their family members to use, they can directly call them and instruct them to use it.





Final Proposl_Tapit
Design Highlights

App interfaces for

family members.

We put services feed on this user interface for children.

Based on test results, we found that the complex interface which contains lots of function will only confuse older people.

So we designed different interfaces for users.

App interfaces for older people.

We kept the app interface for older people simple since they only use Tapit to receive the call from their children and follow their instructions to access online services.

Service Value
01 Avoid ambiguity

Red dots help show the way clearly, bringing less frustration.

02 Facilitate trust on Online services

Older people are guided by trusty family members.

03 Increase confidence

Older people get more familiar with the internet. 

Key Takeaways
  1. Embracing the challengings, and adapting to the changing situation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our fist proposal to the problems were no longer appropriate. We had to reframe our problem and recreate our service proposition, which frustrated us at first. However, as designers, we need to have the resilience to react to the ever-changing situation and find the leverage among the whole system rather than use the quick fixes, trying to solve the problems by only adjusting the same proposal.

  2. Building on existing solutions: As the project was related to community building, we paid attention to the existing online social platform and think about the other possible breakthroughs. We found that there was an active social mutual aid network, and residents proactively established online communities among the neighbourhood on WhatsApp and Facebook. Through these platforms, people could easily connect and provide support. We then recognised that the urgent need for solving social isolation amongst older people during the pandemic was to engage them in the digital world and support them to use online services. We joined these networks, recruited interviewees, and prototyped our new service approach. With the support of these enthusiastic residents, our project finally proceeded smoothly. I was really impressed by this vibrant social energy and it makes me think more about how to facilitate people’s initiative for social change in the future. 

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