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Dating Gray

Summer 2017

Generative tools, Design research


Margaux Reynolds, Shu Ou, Charlie Hodges


People retire from careers, but they don't retire from love. The pursuit of love is life-long. This topic explores what it means to date in your 60’s and 70’s.  With the aging population on the rise, a growing number of seniors find themselves back on the dating scene, but they are finding that dating is a different world than the one they experienced in their younger years.

What does it mean to search for love in the later years of life?


A Growing Aging Population

Due to baby boomers, the proportion of the population in the older ages is increasing. In 2050, the population aged 65 and up, is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012.  


Life Expectancy

The life expectancy gap between women and men is expected to narrow in 2050. The changing sex ratios at the older ages may have implications on the marital status and living arrangements of the older population.


This topic was inspired by my grandmother, who at 70, found herself widowed and looking for companionship in her golden years. 


Dater specifications: People over 65 years and actively dating​​

Expert specifications: An expert in the industry specializing in seniors; dating coach, matchmaker

Judy, 72

"I still miss living with someone."

"Mary," 66

"There just aren't many good men out there."

Robert, 65

"I have learned to be nicer, so that I am forgiven when I mess up."

"Greg," 69

"I think I'm in love!"

Steve, 72

"I can't forget..."

Ken, 72

A Boomer dating expert, specializing in women over 50

Knowledge Goals

What is their experience?

How do they see the world?

What is their motivation?


We designed a kit of generative tools.  One tool was designed around each knowledge goal. We used these tools as the basis of our participant interviews.

What is their experience?


Participants were asked to remember a recent date and map what happened in order from getting ready, going on the date, and the end.

Key Takeaways:

A great introductory ice breaker. Through this tool, we got a sense of the recent dating experiences of our participants. 

How do they see the world?

Dixit Deck

Dixit cards are a deck of cards with abstract images on them, used to evoke memories and images.  Dixit Cards are a way to understand how our participants see themselves, how they think the world sees them and how they see the world. Participants were asked to pick two cards: one that represents what dating means to them now and one that represents what dating meant to them in the past.

Key Takeaways

Changed the focus from what happened to how they felt. A successful tool to compare now and then.

Pile Sort

What is their motivation?

Participants were asked to imagine their ideal dating outcome and arrange the cards in an order that made sense to them.

Key Takeaways

Window to understand how the participant defined the words. This tool revealed many subtle contradictions.

Key Themes

We identified the following key themes at various stages of the dating process.

Self Assessment

"I'm so old and so are the men. No one wants to be reminded we're over 70."


"I never heard from him again...​I can handle rejection.  What I don't like is the not knowing."


"In my mind, I kept remembering what it was like 18 years ago.  In the end, it just wasn't the same."

First Impression

"I really put my best foot forward,  but then I meet these people and they look so shrubby. It's not who I thought I was going to meet."

Only One Way In

"...You gotta start somewhere."


We created a user journey map across the dating process and identified various themes across each state of the process.

Analysis Clusters


Using the KJ Method, the team took all of our findings from our interviews and created groupings of information using clusters of Post-Its

What does it all mean?

We used several analysis tools to find meaningful insights and opportunities. In doing this, we created different ways to visualize information and make sense of our findings and knowledge.


Frameworks included: 

POEMS + A&I (People, Objects, Environment, Messages, Systems, Activities, Interactions) User Experience

Ethnographer's Questions


P.N.S.T.I.O (Problem, Need, System Challenges, Themes, Insight and Opportunities). 

Insights and Opportunities
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