Track B: Communication practices in UCD and PD projects

User-centred design (UCD) is a widely established practice to focus on users’ needs [7] and address them in the development and evaluation process of computer systems [3]. It provides a valuable approach that allows potential users of a system or product to shape the design process based on the identified needs derived from the requirements analysis [1]. However, when developing products for older adults, one of the major problems is that their specific needs are often not addressed properly. Participatory design (PD) approaches provide a set of theories and practices [5] that allow involving older adults more actively in the design and development process and aim at “collaborating with the intended users throughout the design and development process” [2, p. 264]. This approach allows for better addressing user needs and requirements in cooperative systems [4].

Within participatory and user-centred design trajectories, clear and inspiring communication is key, i.e., communication among the members of the design and development team as well as communication with (potential) end-users and stakeholders. While there has been a variety of research on best practices, pitfalls and challenges on UCD and PD approaches, particularly with regards to older adults [e.g., 2,4,6,8] communication issues in this context are barely addressed. What does the design/development team actually mean when talking about specific functional requirements? How do we as researchers convey a clear picture of technology without biasing potential end users’ view? How do we get novices to talk about a future they do not know during a PD session? Answers to these questions are scarce, while creating and fostering an open, clear and inspiring mode of communication is crucial for generating innovative, ground-breaking technology by means of participatory and user-centred design.

This track will address these questions and aim at identifying best practices, lessons learned and recommendations for successful communication and implementation of older adults’ requirements to support collaborative design activities.

Aims of the workshop

The main goal of the one-day workshop is to discuss and reflect upon best practices and recommendations for successful communication and implementation of user requirements throughout the development process, in particular when working with older adults. Moreover, we aim at developing principles and guidelines that can support the communication process among engineers and designers. Our discussion is focused on (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • How (if at all) do older adults differ from other age groups with respect to joining participatory and user-centred design activities? What understanding of technology is basic in their everyday-life and practices?
  • How to create means that facilitate the communication of ideas for design and a vision of future technology that are understandable and not daunting to older adults?
  • How can we enable older adults to think about technical solutions that go beyond the things they already know or are already out there?
  • How to deduct functional and visual requirements from the products/transcripts of a participatory design session with older adults?
  • How can we document functional/visual requirements that are understandable for developers, designers, and older adults?
  • How do we validate functional/visual requirements that result from participatory design sessions with older adults (interaction versus interface design)?



  1. Abras, C., Maloney-Krichmar, D., & Preece, J. (2004): User-centred design. Bainbridge, W. Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 37(4), 445-456.
  2. Ellis, R. D., & Kurniawan, S. H. (2000): Increasing the usability of online information for older users: A case study in participatory design. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 12(2), 263-276.
  3. Mao, J.-Y., Vredenburg, K., Smith, P. W. & Carey, T. (2005): The state of user-centered design practice. Commun. ACM 48, 3 (March 2005), 105-109.
  4. Lindsay, S., Jackson, D., Schofield, G. & Olivier, P. (2013): Engaging Older people using Participatory Design. In Proceedings of CHI’12 Human Factors in Computing Systems. p.1199-1208.
  5. Muller, M.J. (2002): Participatory design: the third space in HCI. In The human-computer interaction handbook: fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications, L. Erlbaum Associates Inc., Hillsdale, 1051-1068.
  6. Newell, A., Arnott, J., Carmichael, A., & Morgan, M. (2007): Methodologies for involving older adults in the design process. In Universal Access in Human Computer Interaction. Coping with Diversity (pp. 982-989). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  7. Norman, D.A. & Draper, S.W. (1986): User centred system design: New perspectives on human-computer interaction. L. Erlbaum Associates Inc., Hillsdale.
  8. Schorch, M., Wan, L., Randall, D., & Wulf, V. (2016): Designing for Those who are Overlooked. Insider Perspectives on Care Practices and Cooperative Work of Elderly Informal Caregivers. (with Lin Wan, David Randall and Volker Wulf). In: ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2016.