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My 82-year-old grandmother once asked me if my laptop was a Facebook. Three years later, we decided to buy her an iPad for Christmas.

 Now, don’t get me wrong, my grandmother is quite the techie. She checks her email every night after dinner, watches how-to sewing videos, and even Skypes with her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren from time to time.

 Knowing this, when we sat down to turn on her shiny piece of piece of tech for the first time on Christmas morning, I launched into what excites me about using an iPad – watching videos, reading books, playing games, sketching ideas. You can do anything with an iPad! How exciting! Right, Grandma Z?!

 My grandmother was completely lost and intimidated. She decided it was too complicated for her.  Instead, we played a couple of games of double solitaire, with actual cards, and called it a night.

What went wrong? Some would argue that buying my grandmother an iPad was simply a waste of money. Why spend that much on something if she isn’t savvy enough to use it to its fullest potential? Here’s why:

 It’s not about what the device can do; it’s about what the user wants the device to do.

 With this idea in mind, I tried a different approach the next morning. I sat down at the breakfast table and asked my grandmother what she was reading about in the paper. With a few taps of her finger, I showed her how she could get to that exact same story, in that exact same paper. I showed her how she could read other, related articles simply by tapping the blue underlined text included in the article. There was even a video included with the online article that added more detail. I also showed her how to find and download a double solitaire app so she could have new double solitaire partners at her beck and call after I’d returned to DC. She mentioned she needed to remind my aunt to pick up something at the grocery store, so I opened iMessage and sent a quick text – receiving a response in less than a minute.

 I now hear from my grandmother at least once a week – be it a random text asking how my dog is doing or sharing the latest local news from Southern Florida. Before her iPad, we’d talk every month or so via the obligatory grandson phone call.

 All in all, regardless of whether you’re developing a new product or teaching your grandmother how to use her new iPad, keep your end user at the center of your considerations. It’ll make everyone happier.

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