Happy Mail

Happy Mail is a portable touch screen device that allows elderly people to receive emails and SMS messages from family in a context that uses a graphical user interface that is visually familiar to them - one that they can understand easily. Take a look at the video below to get a quick overview of the concept.

GUI course @ CIID
3 weeks
Alexander Wiethoff (CIID),
Niels Clausen-Stuck (DesginIt)
Siddharth Muthyala, Eilidh Dickson, Kevin Cannon
Concept generation, paper prototyping, user testing, gui design

The elderly person receives their ‘mail’ every morning from a device, creating a milestone in their day, similar to when a postman would deliver mail. We found taht isolation was a big problem with many of the people we met, and we hope this could address that. It allows friends and family to use quick methods of communication that they are used to using (email, sms) without imposing it on the elderly person.


We undertook in depth user research with elderly people living in care homes. We decided to focus our idea on improving communication between people living in elderly homes and the outside world. As a group we felt that it was a great shame that the elderly do not benefit from the internet and email like we do. Our core aim and value we wanted to create for the elderly was:

“How do you bring the joy of receiving a letter into an email?”


We wanted to have a strong mental model of receiving, reading and writing letters throughout our concept. The home screen for the device is a writing table where letters will accumulate when you receive mail. The visuals and sizes of the mail illustrates the content. For example, a letter on the desktop is a normal email, a package on the desktop would be an email with a photo attachment and a note on the desktop would be a SMS message.

We also added an address book as the entry point to writing new messages, and a storage box function where you can store old ‘letters’.

Process Photos

» User Research
» Insight Analysis
» Concept Development
» User Testing
» Refining


During this project we used a user centered design process. We broke it into three areas: User research, concept development and prototyping.

After our initial insights we used a range of design methods through our process from observations and interviews in the research stage to brainstorming, storyboarding, experience prototyping, paper prototyping and user testing during the development stage. In the final stages of the project we used a range of techniques to illustrate our idea and tell a story. We fully designed the GUI for the device and mapped out the functions using a flow diagram. We created detailed scenario storyboards and used film to create a 30 second taster video at the top of this page.