July 15, 2022
David Hayward

A ground-breaking app for seniors, based on an entirely new UX design system, bringing together best-in-class accessible design, functionality and aesthetics.

Ryman Healthcare operates 38 retirement villages across New Zealand. As pioneers in the retirement industry, their use of technology to enhance retirement living and care is one of the many ways they challenge the conventions of ageing.

“Ryman’s purpose is to enhance freedom, connection and wellbeing for people as we grow older.”

says Mary-Ann Stone, Ryman’s Chief Strategy Office.

Ryman’s uncompromising dedication to their purpose led to the concurrent development of two related, large-scale initiatives, co-designed with residents: an enhanced activities programme and the Ryman resident app.  

“We wanted to ensure that residents have digital tools in their hands to enable them to get even more out of participating in the activity programme”

says Stone.  

The over 70s demographic isn’t particularly well served when it comes to technology design.  

The Ryman resident app seeks to change that. Available on iOS and Android smartphone and tablet-based devices, the app is designed from the ground up with accessibility, ease of use and future extendibility in mind.  

New patterns, no assumptions  

Ryman and their design partners undertook a “no assumptions” approach for the design. This meant over 250 hours of interviews, user-testing, and co-design sessions involving over 150 residents, informed by over 4,200 data points, all wrapped up in a cross-discipline agile design process.  

“It's important for us to get these technology ideas out to our residents really early in the process.”

Says Rick Davies, Ryman’s Chief Technology Officer.

“These regular feedback loops constantly coming back from residents inform our design teams on where to go next.”  

While most app design uses learned behaviour and pattern recognition, this couldn’t be relied upon for the Ryman resident app as there was the added requirement to accommodate residents with cognitive decline.  

The app is therefore built entirely on new user patterns designed from the ground up, and future-proofed so that minimal change is required to the user interface as new features are added.  

It’s easy-to-use for the novice technology user but remains a dynamic and contemporary experience for the technologically savvy.  

Accessibility is key

The app is built to comply with gold-standard AAA visual accessibility standards and features a custom-made accessible design system. Design elements such as fonts and navigation are designed to be beautiful and functional, a rare combination in accessible design. Colour contrast is optimised to accommodate app users with a low vision range – 20/80 vision.  

The dynamic calendar enables residents to see, browse and explore all the activities available to them, ranging from escape room experiences to exercise classes. Residents can create their own schedule and receive reminder alerts as well as important village updates.

The app’s impact

With the app available at two villages and poised for launch across the village network, feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Residents are writing thank you notes in their survey responses, saying thank you for what you are doing and considering what we want and need.”
— Emily Underwood, Ryman’s UX Design Lead
David Hayward
Chief marketing officer
Dave is a comic book nerd who is a marketer in that order. Channeling his surprisingly unused fine arts degree, he’s worked client and agency-side for brands (including some famous ones) in all sorts of industries including technology and sport.