Java Music Club


‍The Java Music Club is a peer support program designed for older adults and those in residential care. The program takes a research-based approach to combat issues of loneliness and depression facing residents in retirement and long-term care homes. Currently, the program has been implemented in over 600 organizations and delivered in a physical package containing paper manuals, audio CDs, and a training DVD.

Java Group Programs, the company that created (and updates) Java Music Club and other programs, became interested in exploring options for creating a digital version of the program.

User Research

Another team member, Jennifer, conducted the user research for this project to understand how facilitators (those who run Java Music sessions) and participants used the program. Jennifer observed 6 Java Music sessions and interviewed 12 people from various senior living organizations in Southern Ontario.

Most of the facilitators were women from age 20-60 with different backgrounds and levels of experience.

Pain Points

Several pain points in the paper-based system were discovered in the observations and interviews:

  • CDs: frequent switching to find the right song, scratched CDs cutting out during playback
  • Paper: flipping of pages in the manual and facilitator guide was distracting
  • Program updates: customers could not receive updates or changes in the program
  • Choosing songs: some residents had difficulty remembering which songs were played already


After reviewing the user research, the team decided to move forward with building a prototype tablet application that helps the facilitator run a session.

The tablet app would replace the music CDs, group manual, and facilitator guide. One of the goals of the digital prototype was to address the above pain points and test the solutions with users.

Since many homes have very tight budgets and there were concerns with residents being overwhelmed with the tablets, it was not feasible to give each group member a tablet.


Based on the user research, I created 4 personas that encapsulated the different types of facilitators (our users) that typically run Java Music Club sessions.

User Story Mapping

Next, the team came together for a user story mapping session. With an army of sticky notes and sharpies, we mapped out a facilitator’s experience when running a Java Music session.

This exercise helped us break the task down into different stages:

  • Scheduling
  • Content preparation
  • Physical preparation
  • Opening
  • Discussion
  • Closing
  • Reflection

Specific user tasks were grouped under these stages. This laid the groundwork for the user flows.

User Scenarios

The next step was for me to create several user scenarios, to help give context to a facilitator’s environment and mental state when they are running a session. Each scenario uses one of the personas as the main character.

These are just 2 out of 10 user scenarios created for the project.

Scenario: Donna needs to start a new JMC program for a new floor.

It’s a warm and sunny Friday afternoon at Sandy Shores Residences, and Donna has just finished the recreation department’s weekly staff meeting. It’s 5pm and Donna has her mind on her upcoming weekend plans. Ideally, she wants to leave in 20 minutes to beat the rush hour traffic.

During the meeting, one of the recreation program coordinators told Donna that they are interested in starting a new Java Music Club program for floor 5. The coordinator has had a good experience running JMC for floor 3, so they would like to try it out for floor 5.

Donna looks at the recreation calendar and notices that there is some space on Tuesdays from 3-4pm where staff would be available to run the program. She now wants to schedule this new group and add a date, time, location, staff list, and member list. She would like to see this group appear in the app calendar along with all the other groups.

Scenario: Allison runs a JMC session for the first time

Allison arrives at Green Acres Village around 1pm after her morning classes. A full time recreation coordinator, Carol, had scheduled and prepared a JMC session earlier in the week (using her own iPad). The theme is “Appreciating Others” which was chosen by a resident during last session.

Carol has been running the sessions for 1 year and wants to teach Allison how to run a session. Allison sat in on last week’s session to get a feel for how JMC runs. She also went through the JMC training materials 2 days ago. Today, she’s very nervous as it’s her first time running a session and she doesn’t want to screw it up. Carol will be observing in the room and helping out if necessary.

The theme is already set and the song list has been vetted. Allison wants a clear step by step guide of how to run the program to refer to during the session. She also wants to be able to see any notes that Carol has made to help her run the session. During the session, she plans to show the photo on the iPad so everyone can see. At the end, she wants to let a resident choose from 3 theme choices for next time using the iPad as well.

Early Prototyping

In the paper version of Java Music Club, many facilitators would add sticky notes to the theme guide pages to help them remember what the group liked last time and to remember general tips. I thought it would be interesting to see how we could incorporate notes into the application.

Testing how a hide / show notes interaction could work

Final Prototype

Once we felt the prototype was in solid shape after many design reviews, Jennifer went back to the same facilitators she visited in the early user research phase and conducted user testing.

Overall, the feedback from users was very positive, with many of them noting how much easier it would be to run a session using a tablet application like this compared to the paper version.

There were also some problem areas identified during the user testing.

Problem: It isn’t clear how to run a session from the home page.
Solution: Add an action button that says “Open” to the session cards to communicate the action available by tapping the card.

Problem: It wasn’t possible to add notes about a specific group member.
Solution: Make it possible to add notes on members in the preparation and closing screens.

Problem: It wasn’t easy to add or remove group members while running a session. This functionality was in the “Manage” tab.
Solution: Add the ability to quickly add or remove members on the fly, in the preparation and closing screens.

I made another round of changes to the prototype to address the issues raised in user testing sessions. Here is a clip showcasing how a facilitator would run a session using the prototype.


I was able to learn so much on this project, and I had lots of help and support from the design team at Zeitspace.

Here are some of the main takeaways I gained from this project:

  • Share early and often, don’t be a perfectionist
  • Diverge then converge (come up with multiple solutions)
  • Spend more time on wireframes before prototyping
  • User research and user testing are immensely helpful
  • Prepare a rough script for design reviews / presentations
  • Use version numbers and version control
  • Be wary of new design tools - Framer struggled to keep up with such a large prototype and was fairly buggy