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Izabela Mrozowska
Izabela Mrozowska
Product Design
03.02.2023 | 3 min

Shopping for seniors supported by IoT. Torba Borba Case Study

Torba Borba, an IoT-boosted shopping bag, will be used by people over 70. We've had the privilege to work on their mobile app, and what amazing work it was!

Shopping for seniors supported by IoT. Torba Borba Case Study - 2023 09
Table of Contents
  • Senior-friendly mobile app
  • Understanding older users' needs
  • Conclusions from the study, a.k.a. expectations vs. reality
  • The simpler, the better

Torba Borba is a Warsaw startup that decided to make life easier for elders worldwide. The company invented a shopping bag powered by an IoT electric motor. An older person can pack up to 12 kg into it and easily overcome obstacles like stairs or hills.

What a noble and beautiful mission!

Senior-friendly mobile app

An older person can receive a bag in two ways: buy or make a remote reservation. Especially in the latter case, a mobile app is essential when the user wants to book a bag without leaving home.

Our task was to create a mobile app that would quickly and painlessly guide a senior through the booking process. The challenge wasn't easy because older adults are a specific user group requiring a delicate approach and unusual solutions.

We knew that with such a group of recipients, there was no room for guesswork, and we needed to conduct direct, qualitative testing with real users ASAP.

Understanding older users' needs

At the very beginning, together with the Torba Borba team, we made some assumptions regarding the necessary app features. Based on their knowledge of users and our knowledge of product design, we created an MVP that we brought to the group of seniors from the culture center Miejsce Akcji Paca in Warsaw.

We introduced ourselves and explained that we were not creating a proper product but a prototype yet to lead us to the final solution.

We focused on a 1-on-1 study; we handed over the phone to each senior with the prototype displayed on the screen. The task we gave them was rather simple:

"Book Torba Borba at whatever time suits you."

Then we observed. The purpose of the study was not to prompt or collect opinions but to watch how the user copes with our solution and whether they can complete the task.

After the task's completion or incompletion, we started asking questions about the booking process. We have collected a handful of fascinating conclusions.

Conclusions from the study, a.k.a. expectations vs. reality

  1. The first and most important conclusion: seniors expect as few features as possible. Everything that’s not an absolute must-have must be cut out. For example, in the beginning, we assumed that older people would need the ability to share their location with a family member or carer. It turned out to be false during the research. We rejected many similar initial assumptions in favor of the app's minimum version.
  2. When designing interfaces for seniors, you must consider their movement and sight limitations. For example, clickable areas on the app should be much larger than usual and give a much greater margin of error for missing a given button with the finger.
  3. Large and thick fonts, contrasting with the background, are essential for seniors. In addition, the information hierarchy should be clear and, importantly, without unnecessary descriptions. Simple and short messages work best.
  4. Older users need confirmation of their actions. For example, suppose the senior chooses the date of collecting the bag. In that case, they should be informed that they have selected the date of ordering the bag. And when they choose the return date of the bag, they should be told that they have selected the return date — and so on.
  5. One piece of information at a time and as simple as possible. Seniors expect nothing else to appear on the screen beside this particular operation they are working on. A great example was the login and registration page, which we reduced from the data found in the standard process (email, login, etc.) to 3 primary data: telephone number, name, and surname.
  6. UX patterns that are bread and butter for younger generations don't have to work for older people, which we found out about on the booking calendar. Seniors were much more willing to enter specific dates themselves instead of selecting them from a native iPhone date picker.

The simpler, the better

The UX research with seniors was really fruitful and, take our word for it, fun and inspiring. The main conclusion we came to is that in the case of apps for older generations, the simpler the app, the better it serves the user.

We are currently working on a new prototype that we will test with users again. We are getting closer to the final version and can't wait for it to see the daylight.

And by the way: we also designed a website and app for Torba Borba. The project was supposed to evoke positive, warm associations, opposite to the cold vibe of medical equipment, which Torba Borba definitely isn't.

Did we succeed, you think?

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