Semester-long project
January-May 2021

Project Description:
During COVID-19, many family members have not been able to connect in-person due to the elderly population being high risk. Many people are currently dying from loneliness and isolation as the sadness from lack of human connection can take a toll. MBC News says, “The effort to shield elderly, frail and disabled residents from the coronavirus has created another wrenching health crisis: The confinement meant to protect the most vulnerable is also threatening their lives.”

Our communication app, Dearly, hopes to combat this issue as it provides a unique opportunity for the elderly to connect with their loved ones who are unable to visit. Through video calls, direct messaging, and posts, we hope to facilitate human connection between loved ones in a way that mimics in-person quality time that is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This project was in collaboration with fellow designer, Samantha Greenhill.

Design Scope:
Our product strengthens relationships between older grandparents and their families in a time when in-person communication is limited. It encourages communication between family members by connecting them to each other in a virtual setting.

User Research Methods:
We spoke to a variety of users and age groups to get a better understanding of the generational differences between family members and how they communicate and interact with technology. 

Affinity Diagram

Affinity Diagram completed via Miro

Personal Inventory: Asked our users to go through their belongings and find their most valuable/important items

Card Sort exercise: Asked our users to sort the elements of an app—features, functions, and design attributes—based on importance to them personally.We also asked some additonal questions about how our users communicate with their family members using technology and also how they interact with technology in their daily lives.

Primary Persona:
Sue Johnson—grandmother
Age 68

  • Spend more time with family
  • Call grandkids at least once a week
  • Teach grandkids how to make her famous recipes

  • Isn’t able to see family very often
  • Very little human interaction
  • High risk of infection


Final High Fidelity Paper Prototype:
View and interact with the full prototype here: