Over our 2 weeks of preparing and conducting primary research, we had 11 user interview participants. Our goal for the interviews was to inquire about the various stages of the digital ecosystem of the dead. We wanted to understand grief in the digital space, attitudes towards managing digital legacies, and wishes for the users own digital legacy.
We wrote our interview guide to cover the areas of the digital ecosystem of the dead in a structure that we wanted to guide our interviews in. 1 — We started with building an idea of their Digital presence. We wanted to understand the user’s support system, their perceptions on their own digital presence, and willingness to have a digital legacy. 2 — Once we initiated the relationship, we asked about the Preneed phase which was about their wishes for themselves, digital privacy, digital life span, and trusted contacts to pass access down to. 3 — That led more smoothly into inquiring about their thoughts on their Post-mortem digital life. We discussed what it felt like to grieve in a digital memorial and about how they would feel managing a loved one’s digital legacy. 4 — Lastly, we took a more reflective tone to ask about the Benefits of Planning. We discussed the user’s mental model of a digital will. User’s then weighed the benefits and risks of planning their digital legacy versus leaving their story to be told by someone they chose.
From our 11 user interviews and all other research methods we conducted, we pulled 820 individual raw data points that lived on our Miro board. From there, we started our affinitization process to create 174 themes, and 51 high level insights from our users. To define the problem space and create actionable steps, we created 22 How Might We questions to define and direct the design problem.
820 Original data points at the beginning of affinitization
During our interviews, we were lucky to have spoken to people who shared openly and deeply about their experiences with death and digital legacies. They brought the human experience to the centre of our research. All the risks, legal constraints or assumptions we had before became side pieces to their emotional attachments to their people.
I lost one of my best friends in the army to suicide.
“I get memories online of people who I have lost. It's like when a butterfly lands on you. It’s a beautiful reminder.”
My father passed away suddenly during the pandemic from a heart attack.
“I think a lot about how my future kids won't know him. Through this digital legacy they can.”
I grew up with a single parent, I don't assume death comes at 80.
“Documenting memories is very important. It is how I make and understand meaning in my life.”
I lost a friend but I wasn't too close to them, I could only imagine.
“It's just a digital way to leave flowers on someone’s grave. It seems it would help their family. To see that her passing has affected so many people that they commented.”
I lost someone I really cared about, they meant alot to many people.
“I am a perfectionist. It would be hard for me to misstep in taking care of someone’s digital legacy.”
I don't have a big digital presence but I care about what I put up.
“If you write about yourself, about how you think you are, you might end up with something not very realistic, more idealistic. I think it would be better for someone who really knows me well to determine who I am.”