As group nine we were given the RSA brief “Mid-Life Moment” which asked us to;
“Design something that challenges the traditional notion of middle age and shifts focus towards the opportunities of mid-life.”
We thought that the main reason people between the ages of 40-60 were unhappy to be their age was because of low self-confidence. Therefore we decided that we wanted our design to increase people’s confidence by providing them with an opportunity to learn new skills and socialise. We also realized our concept should suit a wide range of lifestyles because people in middle age could be at various stages in there life.
We began the process by brainstorming as a group. Our initial topic of discussion centered on mid-life and what it means in today’s settings. We focused on the opportunities that mid-life offers and brainstormed all the possible avenues that these prospects preordained, as well as unearthing a way to include and connect middle aged people with chances that are usually reserved for those who are younger and therefore hoping to eliminate age barriers. We very quickly mind mapped out all of our thoughts on this subject; it was clear that there is such a great range of lifestyles between this age group so we had to determine the core paths that connected this group of people in order to develop a notion that would benefit the whole age group. The main connection that they have is a sense of stability that is attained at this stage in life and through that we dedicated our attention to some of the possibilities that were then available: education, careers, job satisfaction, voluntary work and career changes, travel, socialization and relationships. These were the main issues that we established surrounding mid-life and we were able to explore these along with discovering gaps to come up with potential answers. After these initial ideas were drawn out, we began a small dialogue based on potential solutions to our brief, for example, short-term learning centres all over the world connected by user-based online profiles, user-rated travel agencies online to allow users to find the ideal holiday, a social networking site that allowed the user to share news and other things that appealed to them and connect with their friends, and various other hypothetical responses based on the matters we had discussed.
Out of all our brainstorming ideas we decided on short-term learning, because we thought this had the most potential. These short-term classes satisfied both our original aims; it would be an easy way of socializing, meeting new people while also learning a new exciting skill or experiencing something new.
Courses would be offered in a range of subjects, including guitar, cooking, exercise, book clubs, etc. The forum on the website would also have a section with which to discuss ideas for new classes. The free classes would be based around group meetings, e.g. book clubs and coffee groups, with the tuition fees for other classes going towards supplies.
We discovered through our research that the main section of people who were unhappy in mid-life were those from low-income households. Therefore the classes offered will be low cost and beginner lever to encourage people to try them, regardless of skill or income level. Pricing would be below £60, including some free courses. By partnering with businesses, which could use the classes as a platform for advertising, the prices are kept as low as possible. As a low cost and low commitment alternative to other forms of education, our website would allow people (who would be otherwise unable to try new things) to learn.
The short-term courses and regular classes would be flexible allowing them to fit around lots of different lifestyles and commitments such as family or work. We would run classes in the evening during weekdays and at the weekend. The majority of the classes would last from one hour to two hours at a time so that they can be slotted into the busy lifestyles of parents or working people.
Although we would make it possible for people to gain information and book classes by calling or visiting; the main touch point for our service, for the majority of people would be via our website. This would suit the busy and varying lifestyles of forty to sixty year olds today because they can log on at anytime; they can do it from their home, work or; with smart phones and mobile devices; even on the move. We quickly prototyped our website together and established the key features.
Firstly would be the Homepage. This would feature a short section on what our service is about and the main aims of it. There would be information on how to contact us, the address of the main centre and a map indicating its location. It would advertise a select few of the activities on offer, particularly the new classes or seasonal events (website images courtesy of Eilish Mackay).
The classes and events page would give detailed information on the classes, talks, and courses available. You would be able to narrow them down by selecting a category such as “fitness” or “food and drink” or you could select to see what is on in “November” or “January”. Lastly there would be a search bar that you could use if you wanted to find something specific.
The classes or events would be in a list format with the name, date and brief description. When clicked on you would see a more in depth description, the exact times, the location and price. Below all that would be a “BOOK NOW” option that would take you straight to a booking payment page. Finally would be an “E-MAIL TO A FRIEND” option so you could e-mail the information about a class to a friend you think would enjoy it or a friend you would like to go with. This would help to promote the service through word of mouth.
At the top of every page we would “JOIN NOW” link. By joining up people could receive updates on new and up and coming classes via social networking sites, text or e-mail. It would also give them access to a part of the website called “my calendar”. This would be something we hope would help users around classes and courses around their schedules. It would work by offering joining members to input information about their current timetables. So for example they might input the days and times they worked, the evenings they had family commitments etc. They would then be presented with a calendar showing the different classes on it with the ones they would be available to attend highlight, available to click on, read more about and book.
Finally would be the Forum area that would have different sections in its self. A section for people to contribute ideas for future courses, classes, talks and events. Another to comment on things they attended, whether it be how good it was, recommending it to other people or how they have gone on to use the skill they learnt. The last section would be for people to talk and connect to people before they attend an event. We realize it can be daunting going along to something you’ve never been to by yourself. This part of our website means you can arrange to meet someone there who you have at least talked to.
We identified our website must be simple and easy to use so it is hassle free to suit busy lifestyles and accessible to users who are confident with technology and online systems and those who aren’t. We would have to create an equally good mobile website and app so it is just as easy to use on the go.
Our education centre offers a range of courses and classes that are flexible for the age groups varying lifestyles. Their casual nature means that they are less daunting than current more formal education programs currently available, perfect for people that are returning to education after a long time. Users might want to go on to complete more formal education courses but these are both a big commitment and financial burden and so our service could allow them to try something before taking that on. In conclusion we believe that our concept will make people feel more positive about being middle aged by increasing their confidence through learning new skills and socializing.