Improving the way people learn new vocabulary or start learning a new language.

User Research I UX Design

What is Lexi?
A conceptual interactive prototype to help people learn new vocabulary or start learning a new language.
Main goal
Make it easier for users to customize their learning process based on their goals, providing an easy to use, intuitive user experience.
My roles & Responsibilities
User Research I UX Design
3 weeks (March 2020)
My approach
Following the Design Thinking methodology I applied alongside the mindset of the human-centred design process process to make sure that my design decisions are aligned to user's needs and desires.

Competitive Analysis
There are several similar products in the market and I narrowed down my research to 3 products that provide solutions using a different approach: Anki, Duolingo and Babbel.
I started with researching how the features of the app's competition accomplish the goals of their users.
I found that:
I ANKI Vocabulary learning ranges from learning words for a new language to saving key terms from a course. When the user's goal is to remember things and learn, creating and saving cards comes in hand.

I DUOLINGO A strong visual language provides the user an environment which feels more like a game and less like a learning platform. I find this concept very thoughtful, intuitive and above all result-driven! 
The user can follow a study plan and personalize their experience. They can become part of a community which helps them stay accountable to their learning goal.
They can receive rewards and receive several motivational prompts which encourage them and give them the necessary incentive to keep learning.

I BABBEL Apart from various levels of difficulty in the language, providing also courses designed to cover specific needs, like: courses for grammar, or business language skills, courses that focus at learning about the countries of the spoken language etc. is very thoughtful and provides a holistic approach in learning. Learning listening podcasts, one more innovative feature.
To better understand the market and the potential for an optimized user experience for a learning app I conducted user research.
User Research
I conducted user interviews to gather knowledge and gain clarity about my potential users. To learn more their experience and figure out what are their needs and pain points.

My research goals were: 
I To identify how the user's use learning apps in their daily life.
I To understand the user's needs and incentive.
I To document possible user pain points or positive effects using similar products in the market. 
I To determine which features are appealing and helpful to the users. 
I To understand how the users feel using a learning app.
User Interviews
I conducted 3 interviews. User N#1 (45) is a software developer using learning apps for fun. User N#2 (41) is an ophthalmologist that travels a lot and uses learning apps to develop their communication skills. User N#3 (35) is a software developer that uses similar tools to integrate in their new location and to communicate better with their partner that is also an expat.
Interview questions:
1. Are you currently working, styling, or both? When you think about a typical day in your life right now, how would you describe it in detail? What are your responsibilities, routines or chores you need to take care of? How do you spend your free time?

2. Have you ever used a language app? Which one was that? Do you remember how you decided to choose the specific app? 

3. How often and how much time do you think you could spend daily/weekly learning new vocabulary?

4. What language(s) did you aim to learn? Did you choose this (these) for a specific reason? Was it important to you for some reason? What was your incentive

5. When you think about your experience with that app, what do you remember?  What are the good memories and bad memories while using it. Can you tell me the things that you would like to change? And the things you would liked about it.

6. How do you feel about learning a new language? AND Would you like to share with me a memory of learning a new language/vocabulary and what was your feeling about the process? 
The talks were very interesting and insightful. From my learnings I was able to create a user persona and user stories.
User Persona
Based on the data I gathered from my research I created one user persona to help me stay connected to the users and their needs, as well as to ensure alignment amongst the stakeholders.
User Stories
User stories helped me translate the user's needs into functional requests for features, and enabled me to move forward in the design phase using the persona’s perspective. Here are some stories: 

As Giorgos, I want motivation so that I will continue learning.
As Giorgos, I want to gain rewards so that I will have the incentive to keep learning.
As Giorgos, I want some sort of gamification so that the learning experience is fun.
As Giorgos, I want to be able to customize my learning process so that I can focus at speaking, instead of writing.
As Giorgos, I want to be able to customize my learning process so that I can choose content that feels relevant to me.
As Giorgos, I want to be able to build a community in the app so that I will stay engaged by connecting and competing with my friends.
As Giorgos, I want to be able to see the words/phrases in a context so that I will understand and remember it.
As Giorgos, I want engaging context so that stay interested and active in my learning.
As Giorgos, I want to learn real sentences so that I can relate and use what I learn.
As Giorgos, I want to choose which flashcards I want to repeat so that I won’t feel bored doing again and again the same words/phrases.
As Giorgos, I want to organize my own flashcards so that I learn what I want.
As Giorgos, I want access to declination tables so that I have a better understanding of  the grammar.
As Giorgos, I want an interface that is easy to use so that I stay engaged.
Problem Statement
Giorgos needs a way to have control of his learning process in an app, because he gets bored and uninterested, when the content is irrelevant/not usable/not engaging. We will know this to be true when we see that he manages to stay true to his commitment to spend 15-30 minutes for learning every evening.
Hypothesis Statement
We believe that by creating several features that offer the tools for customization of the app
for Giorgos, we will achieve keeping Giorgos following through his commitment to practise German 15-30 minutes in a daily basis.

Information Architecture
Using information from my research I gathered some ideas about the ways that Giorgos could customize his experience. I started exploring my initial ideas based on 2 questions: 
WHAT kind of content makes the experience more engaging ? 
HOW does Giorgos prefer to learn?​​​​​​​
In the ideation phase I started building the structure of the app by creating a sitemap.
Giorgos customizes his learning experience by:
I Selecting a course,
I selecting a level (beginner, intermediate, advanced),
I selecting a specific topic (Basic, News, Culture, Novels, Technology) to start or continue learning.
I Clicking to start or continue learning choosing a specific course and selecting one of the suggested methods (Flashcards, Speaking, Writing, Listening, Video).
Starting by drawing out sketches of the first screens and moving on to designing mid-fidelity prototypes, I was able to ideate how these first user flows could look like.
Wireframes & Prototypes
To be able to test my ideas, I  transformed them into a physical format so that the potential user can interact with them. Mid-fidelity wireframes evolve to an interactive prototype. My focus initially was to define the actions the user has to take to customize their learning experience.
Mid-Fidelity prototypes
Usability Testing
To test my assumptions with people that represent the app's target group I scheduled usability testings. This way I was able to see how quickly and efficiently users interact using the app as well as to observe their behaviour and psychology.

A document with the usability plan was written to hand out to the interviewees. This document provided clarity about the objectives and the process of the tests.
My goal was to understand how the users navigate their way to their goals through the given tasks and where possible pain points show up.
Usability Test Plan
Two usability tests were conducted moderated. The other two were conducted moderated remote and were recorded using google meet and skype. Though I intended to facilitate these tests having physical presence, two of the participants chose to participate remote. Both methods were proven to be very effective.

Here's a brief overview of the process:
I Brief the users about the process, set up a friendly environment.
I Describe the scenario, let users perform the given tasks while thinking aloud.
I Ask follow up questions, gather feedback about their views and overall experience.
I Thank them for participation.
I recruited 4 participants. 3 of them are expats in Berlin and already users of similar apps to learn german. The 4th participant is German, interested in learning languages for fun.
I Select a course to start learning.
I Select how difficult you want your course to be and move on with your learning.
I Choose “speaking” as a form of practise.
I Select the content you prefer among the categories of the app and move on with your learning.
All 4 participants interacted in a different way with the prototype. This led to various and useful insights.
To gather my observations and evaluate my findings I created a detailed rainbow spreadsheet. Using Jakob Nielsen’s four-step rating scale, I categorized and ranked the severity of errors that showed up. I identified the top 4 errors to be addressed in the next iteration and accordingly the less important for the next iteration rounds.​​​​​​​
Top 4 errors
I They tried first to change the level in the settings.
I They tried to go back and there wasn’t a way.
I They were confused with the numbers of the courses.
I They would like to be able to choose “all” from the list of topics.
Like one participant mentioned although they managed to navigate through the app, they found the navigation quite unexpected. Although it did't appear to be a problem until now, I am considering exploring a filter section where the user can choose between different types of customization, instead of creating menu items for each of the sections.
Future Steps
Moving on with this project I'd like to:
Apply all the feedback I gathered from the first usability test.
Add user personas to broaden my understanding of the user.
Test alternative navigation.
Design the UI of the app. 
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