A social website that encourages older adults to exercise by empowering them to lead walking tours for new neighbors and tourists

Product: Website
Role: User research, Prototyping in Axure
Duration: 4 Weeks
Skills: UX/UI design, User research
Tools: Moqups, Axure, Adobe Illustrator, Sketch
Collaborators:  Xingsuo Liu [Visual Design], Yolanda Chen [UI design]




Our challenge was to design a product or service for older adults (ages 65 and older) that was related to fitness. 


Older adults have many fitness resources, but lack the motivation to exercise

Through our research we found the market is currently saturated with many fitness resources for seniors. Many of these are free, from workout classes such as Silver Sneakers to free gym memberships included in health insurance packages. Although these fitness resources are easily accessible and effective, many older adults still opt out of using them. Due to a lack of motivation, fear of trying new things, and embarrassment, older adults have more difficulty staying committed to exercise.

Older adults have strong motivation to engage in social activities, to give back to their communities, and to maintain their independence 

Many older adults lose self-confidence as they begin to rely on care from others. Older adults also have higher high rates of social isolation due to the loss of a spouse, retirement, and children moving out of the house. We found that many older adults crave social engagement and want to feel helpful. When comparing older adults who exercised and those who did not, the older adults we spoke to who were more likely to workout were also avid volunteers.

Older adults are underutilized and have a lot to offer their communities

There is a misperception that older adults are always recipients of care. On the contrary, we found that many older adults well into their 80's and 90's have a lot to offer their. Older adults are great storytellers. The older we get, the more stories we have to tell.  Many older adults have extra time due to retirement.  Older adults are also experts in their cities' history and culture. Many older adults in Pittsburgh who we interviewed had lived in their neighborhoods for 40 years or more.



Pittsburgh Wise Walkabouts: A website that uses walking to connect older adults with their communities

While older adults often lack the motivation to exercise, they do express desire for social engagement, feeling useful, and gaining independence. Pittsburgh Wise Walkabouts is a website that empowers older adults to host walking tours called "walkabouts" for newcomers and tourists to the Pittsburgh area. Walkabout hosts engage in exercise as they lead walking tours. Our solution engages older adults in what they really want to do, which is help others, meet new people, and share their in-depth knowledge of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Wise Walkabouts taps into what seniors have to offer their communities: their time, their stories, and their desire to give back.





We examined the opportunities and challenges facing older adults in the U.S. today


  • Classes geared towards seniors that are about using digital devices and the internet are in huge demand
  • Many seniors are incredibly tech-savvy
  • Seniors largely favor tablet devices, but also own smartphones and computers
  • Many seniors favor shopping online and are avid users of Facebook


  • Poverty due to increased healthcare costs and a fixed income.
  • Financial exploitation
  • Loneliness, often due to the death of a spouse
  • Declining health
  • Loss of independence


The market is already saturated with resources related to older adults and fitness

We examined the people and organizations working in this space. We found that there are abundant and effective products and services for older adults, and many are free. Although effective in helping older adults become more fit, many older adults still opt out of using them.




We spoke with older adults and discovered their wants and needs when it comes to exercise

We recruited and interviewed 14 older adults (ages 65+) from the Pittsburgh area. We wanted to understand how those challenges we found in our secondary research affected our interviewees’ engagement in exercise.




We found many problems and brainstormed solutions for each one

We identified several barriers to fitness for older adults and brainstormed possible solutions for each one. We determined that the most value for older adults would be through a solution that tackled the barrier of lack of motivation.




We used Jane and Marty to helped us envision scenarios for our prototype

To present our ideas to users and test our designs, we created two personas, Jane and Marty. 



We built a clickable prototype in Moqups to demonstrate the user flow and communicate the idea

We created clickable wireframes for three different use cases: 1. Posting a walkabout, 2. Requesting a walkabout, and 3. Answering a request for a walkabout.



We iterated on the prototype and created a medium-fidelity clickthrough

We designed a user interface following current best practices for designing for older adults. Our final prototype was designed and built in the prototyping software Axure.



Next Steps


Our next steps would be to test both the concept and the prototype on both older and younger adult users. From there we would focus our attention on the user interface in more detail. We would consider the various methods that older and younger users would create posts to the website and how they would communicate with each other in a safe and enjoyable manner.