Introductory project on CareerFoundry Certified UX Designer programme.
The purpose of this UX study was to understand how and in which context users work with mobile apps to learn vocabulary, and what their needs are. Then, low fidelity wireframes were sketched out, and a prototype was created for initial usability testing.
Competitor Research
To understand the problem space, I conducted a brief overview of mobile learning apps, showing that there are multiple mobile learning apps for general foreign language proficiency, but there seems to be a gap in provision of learning tools for more technical terms and jargon. The competitor analysis therefore focuses on that space.
Apps specialising in technical vocabulary use a traditional reference or dictionary format, while more general language learning apps are more entertaining, often using gamification. More feature-rich memorisation apps are difficult to use for novices, in one case requiring access to the desktop app to "load" the vocabulary database.
User Interviews
In the generative research phase, I conducted three short user interviews with fluent mobile users who have some experience with online vocabulary learning.
Participants were between ages 35 to 55, and all stated that they had to fit vocabulary or language learning into their busy lives. The following commonalities were observed:
Behaviours:
- Learning "on the go";
- Switching between languages/subjects;
- Put in a lot of effort at the start, but don't keep it up;
- Stop learning if the content seems irreleveant.

Feelings and motivations:
- Sometimes learning is useful, and sometimes for entertainment.
- Users get frustrated and bored if they cannot see results.
- The transition from learning to application is really difficult.
- Learning is easier when there is a reward.

Thinking and attitudes:
- If learning is for work, sessions need to be longer and more serious.
- Gamification is distracting.
- Content should focus on user needs.
From the information gathered in the interviews, I constructed a proto-persona to guide the problem statement and user stories.
Having distilled Claire's needs and expectations, formulating them as user stories together with her motivations helped contextualise her use of the app.
Constructing job stories gave an early indication of how individual tasks were connected. This was useful in sketching out user flows and the first wireframes.
The problem statement and hypothesis were formulated to set the priorities in the design process:
Problem Statement

"Claire needs a way to customise the content of her vocabulary learning app because she wants to focus on content that is relevant to her goals"
Hypothesis
"We believe that by creating a multimedia feature that allows users to add text, images and audio files to the vocabulary cards for Claire, we will achieve that the content becomes practical, applicable and personally relevant to her."
Task Analysis
By reviewing the interview notes, user stories and job stories, "Claire's" two most important tasks were identified and then translated into user flows:

1. Accessing and opening an existing vocabulary list.
2. Creating a multimedia vocabulary card.
After sketching the decision making process and task flow, the sketches were tidied up in Adobe Illustrator.
Wireframes
From the task flows, I iterated low-fidelity wireframes for log-in, onboarding, a main menu and admin area, as well as the two main features: Adding a vocabulary card, and learning from an existing card list. I also added a quiz feature, as interview participants had expressed an interest in measuring their own learning progress.
User Testing
After assembling a low fidelity prototype in Prott, I conducted moderated walk-throughs with three test participants, scoring four tasks on the Nielsen error scale:
1. Sign up to the app.
2. Start a learning session about “Design”.
3. Add a new word with a definition and an image.
4. Take a test.
Evaluation
Features that work well:
Log-in feature was seamless and familiar.
“Add card” feature was easy to find and access.
Users found the facility to add media like images and sound fun and relevant:
“I could add a picture of my favourite restaurant menu to my vocabulary card!”
Minor Usability Problems:
Icons and instructions need to be clearer.
Purpose of Sign-up is not entirely clear
Usability Catastrophe: List View and Home
The list view failed to provide clear navigation, and users could not understand its purpose.
Recommendations
Proposed re-working of architecture:
After sign-in or onboarding, give option to study or curate content.
Study path includes quiz, selecting subject and bookmarking vocabulary for more intensive study.
Curation path includes editing of content and community activities such as sharing and chat.

Learnings
On completion of the course, we were asked to reflect on the design process. The observations that stuck with me most are:
- People are creatures of habit: It’s easy to overthink the originality of a design - if users are accustomed to previous patterns, it may be best to stick to what they know.

- What users say about their requirements differs from what really motivates them, and how they actually use apps.

- I had not anticipated how evidence-driven the UX design process would be.

- Coming up with new and unique products is hard! What seems like a good idea at the time may not work for the user – testing is the only way to find out what works and inspires potential customers.
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