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Challenge:

  1. mobile application targeted to people who are 50+ years old
  2. we would like to get as much feedback as possible, that's why guerrilla style testing would be best

We have prepared a prototype in English and therefore we would need to test the application in a country, where English is a first language. Our company is based in Europe, so we are looking at UK and Ireland. We think that we will make a 2 days' trip. Big question: how to find the right target people and how to "recruit" them on the fly?

We are thinking about some places for senior centers or places where older people spend time (cafes, libraries, etc.).

Do you have any suggestions / ideas how to plan testing like this?

  • I like the idea of going to target user's country and making gorilla testing there for 2 days! Great UX spirit! – Kristiyan Lukanov Dec 8 '16 at 15:00
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50-100 is a massive demographic.

I think you need to think about splitting it into subgroups, as these will behave very differently. Different age ranges have 'grown up' with different technology, and also 'mental plasticity' can drop alarmingly with age.

  • The 50-60 group will mostly still be at work during the working week (certainly the men). This group contains lots of people who grew up with computers. I wouldn't call this group 'seniors' - it will annoy them. They are still 'middle aged', at least in terms of how they label themselves.

  • The 60-70 group are the 'retirers'. This group didn't grow up with computers and smartphone penetration will be lower. Mental plasticity** is falling with this group.

  • 70-80 people are generally not working. Some may have email. Smartphone adoption will be still lower.

  • 80-100 Retired and probably mostly without desktop computers.


As to where to find people: It depends which age group you are after, and whether you want a more 'urban' or 'suburban' mix.

If you want a more affluent and mobile group they generally hang around National Trust and Garden Centre Cafes

PS - I'm in that demographic and in the UK. If you comment where you are planning to visit I'll post up some of the regional garden centre chains.

** Mental Plasticity is the ability to take on new information and change behaviour.

  • Thank you, Phillip. Great comment about the splitting into subgroups- good to keep it in mind. In my situation the project is on an early concept level but I would be mostly interested in 50-60 and 60-70, and rather urban type. National Trust- is this the overview of all the places? nationaltrust.org.uk/search?view=map. Garden Centre Cafes - this sounds very promising. From where we live it's easiest to come to one of the big cities: London (most probably), Manchester. Thank you in advance for your help! – adam.heleniak Dec 12 '16 at 11:42
  • Yes, those are the National Trusts. Its also going to depend on the time of year you propose to do the research: in the winter a lot of the NTs shut up or go on restricted hours; and the older people stay at home. Garden centres stay open year round and most of the bigger ones have cafes. Here's a national chain wyevalegardencentres.co.uk and a South London Chain squiresgardencentres.co.uk. You'll also find older people in the central London museums and galleries - but often these are more hectic and noisy (if you are aiming to audio record interviews) – PhillipW Dec 12 '16 at 14:00
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Where I live (which is Australia, not the UK) senior citizens are given a pass that lets them ride on public transport for free between 9am and 5pm - so they don't clog up the public transport during peak hour. You could look for similar situations where the elderly are subsidised - like a movie theatre with cheap tickets for seniors on a certain day of the week.

I imagine there's also likely to be certain activities like water aerobics (which appeals more to the elderly since there's less strain on joints), lawn bowls (it's a great social activity that takes more thought than physical effort, or bingo (because stereotypes). Ambushing them outside of such places could be a good strategy. Libraries also come to mind.

You could also simply try advertising in a newspaper local to where you're planning to travel. In my experience some elderly folk can get quite lonely, and are happy for an opportunity just to socialise with someone - if you'll listen to their opinion all the better.

I think it's also worth considering that you can only talk to so many people, so even if there's only a few you might not be able to talk to them all.

  • Thank you for your answer, many good points about the cinemas, libraries and the need of elderly people for socialising. – adam.heleniak Dec 12 '16 at 10:42
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You might also consider "partnering" with a local established business whose clientele is either primarily those over 50, or how see that sort of traffic significantly during the daytime hours.

Approach them and ask if you could approach customers inside their facilities and provide, perhaps, a summary of your findings and research as "payment", to help their own marketing and sales efforts.

Banks, for example, often see increased traffic of this demographic during the day, as do some grocery stores. The local equivalent of the YMCA/gym facilities see the over-50 crowd to quite an extent in the mornings, at least on this side of the pond. Government funded community centres are another good location, though can also get the parents with young kids crowd as well, at the same time.

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Philip's breakdown of age groups is spot-on. I'd also suggest you get much more specific with your description of your app as "a mobile application targeted to people who are 50+ years old." That covers a whole lot of territory, not just of age but also of education, interests and general mindset. If the 65+ y.o. seniors you are targeting are well-off, educated and highly involved in culture and current events, chances are you won't find them at the local council's centre. They might be on a Road Scholar tour of Portugal or visiting their daughter and grandchildren in Los Angeles.

If the you are looking for seniors with more time than money, the public spaces are the way to go. Otherwise you will need to refine your searches and look farther afield.

Finally, put whatever nice old pensioner stereotypes you're still holding onto right out of your mind.

Here are some of the nice, sedate 50-60 year olds you'll meet.

punks

...and here are their older brothers and sisters

...and here are their older brothers and sisters

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