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Visual Research

I’m writing this at a key point in my research for my educating the over 55’s brief. I’ve been so absorbed in it, I haven’t been able to post much about it. There is also another factor, that because I was so involved – I went off track. When researching fully, I start to discover the original references behind the facts – and then look further into those. This uncovers some great facts, but at the same time can be overwhelming.

I have posted my visual research into this age group to the Pinterest Boards below.

Personal Reflection

I could identify personally with my first point of reference, Personal Reflection. I have been doing this all the while through my degree, whilst also taking stock of where I am in my career-shift into teaching. This has involved a great deal of soul-searching and decision making. I think this route has a lot of potential use.

Higher Education

Unsurprisingly, these are aimed at a younger audience – the words and the images describe a vibrant, bright future ahead, with bright colours and bold shapes.

Creative Imagery

These examples use creative imagery to communicate the message. These are of particular interest as they are mostly advertising products for an older audience. Good to see that bold colours and shapes aren’t just the preserve of the young.

Here are some interesting resources I found regarding the older generation:

  • Uncovering the lives of the over 50s
    This article from RDSi Research gives a great insight into the activities, and responsibilities of this age group.
  • The Future of an Aging Population
    This report discusses how older people make up a growing proportion of the population, and make an increasing contribution to society.
  • Acorn
    An incredibly useful tool to help profile people and their respective lifestyles.

Having compiled a good deal of data on this age group it was time to start my visual research. In the past, I would have been inclined to start the visual research first, but this time I went out with a thirst for data and am now satisfied I fully understand this age group.

I also spoke to several people in this age bracket, and here are their thoughts on retraining, or learning new skills over the age of 50.

“After having run a restaurant for 10 yrs, it was time to do something I was passionate about. I successfully retrained as a fitness instructor. I am now a featured trainer for the over 50’s at a high profile health club in the UK. Being over 50 myself this was certainly an achievement.

Norman, 60

“I have a desire to learn, and try new things, but am constantly put off by my peers, who imply that it’s ‘not worth it’ and my age. At 65 I don’t feel old!!”

Jilly, 65

“Most business models have focused on self-interest instead of user experience.”

I’ve had a tough couple of weeks with work, and sadly my study time has suffered. I have also over-thought lots of study ideas in this period which has clouded my thinking further. Having ideas is great. But without action on those ideas, they remain just that, ideas. Today I got some notes down and started *actioning things.

When I have an idea they are quickly assessed on the following points:

  • Does this solve the problem?
  • Could it go further?
  • Has it been done before?
  • Am I good enough
  • Why can’t I make this work

My Essay will examine the quote above from Tim Cook. I’ve found some great examples of how businesses have gone ahead using their own assumptions, only to discover some surprising insights further down the line based on real life observations of user behaviour. One of the examples I’ve cited is “How Changing a Button Increased a Site’s Annual Revenues by $300 Million”. This is a great example which is easy to understand, but at the same time had remained elusive before it was spotted and improved (with huge returns).

You’ll notice how self-doubt makes itself know halfway through the process, however, I use this to constantly evaluate things so I can always improve.

* There is genuine concern online whether “actioning” is actually a real word. I believe it is, so I’m running with it.


This is so true. Get outside, see, do.


Having written notes on an example essay that cited way too many things from dubious online sources, I felt the need to also purchase some books for my own research to make sure my essay didn’t go the same way as the example version (it lacked factual comparison and didn’t discuss any outcomes).  Some of these books are now on my Kindle, and some took a week or two to arrive in their printed form. I am now collecting these reference points, making sure I don’t dwell too long, or find myself going off on a tangent.

So where do I go from here

I feel good having managed to get past my creative block. However, I’m painfully aware of the time it has cost me. I will post another update when I have actioned things further!








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My Degree

I’m currently studying a part-time Graphic Design Degree so I can develop the skills needed to become a Teacher in the not too distant future. I’ve been studying this since early June this year and so far it’s been a revealing experience. Having been conditioned by the design industry for the last 20 yrs as a designer it’s natural for me to try and think on my feet, and get to the big idea as quickly as possible. The faster we get things done, the happier the client is, and we all get paid. Whilst that may be true for fast artwork projects, I’ve discovered I need to totally recalibrate my thinking for my Degree Studies. Instead of rushing ahead, I’m enjoying researching subject matters and then delving deeper into these, via different perspectives.