Field work with older users: Challenges in design and evaluation of information systems

Marja Harjumaa, Minna Isomursu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    This paper summarises experiences of empirical research carried out to evaluate information and communication technology (ICT)‑based services that aim at supporting older people in independent living. Over the course of four years, we have explored several different ICT‑based service concepts in field trials. The goal of the field trials has been to expose innovative ICT‑based service concepts to the everyday life of older users through the adoption of services in real‑life use. As a result, rich data about user experience and the value of the service for different stakeholders has been collected and analysed. Conducting the field trials has exposed practical issues about how to conduct research with older users. In this paper, the experiences are summarised. In addition, a conceptual framework for conducting user experience research is presented in order to understand the research approach that has been used in the individual case studies presented. The findings show that older participants differ from other user groups in several ways. Researchers faced challenges with research procedures during the field trials. These challenges were sometimes caused by their exploratory nature and the limited duration of the field trial; the participants of field trials did not always want to invest in adopting the services as part of their everyday routines, but instead restricted their use to testing technology and related services as objects isolated from their everyday lives. Often, this also led to situations where participants judged the value of the service to "someone else", and were not willing to adopt it themselves.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)50-62
    Number of pages13
    JournalElectronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • ambient assisted living
    • field trials
    • ageing technology users


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