The Brief

Background

As part of my UX fundamentals course I had to design a mobile app for language learning, focusing primarily on the user research and UX design.

During my time serving as a language facilitator at a University in Saudi Arabia, I discovered there was a giant gap in the app market for an English language learning app catering for Saudi students.

 

Why bother?

  • There is no app available that is culturally sensitive to the needs of the Saudi female learner (available apps require learners to participate via video chat – in Saudi culture a woman may not show her face unveiled to strangers). This stops many students from learning online.

  • Many saudis are tech-savvy and occupy the spot of top social media users in the world. This gives us the potential to gain a big share in the market.

 

The goal?

  • To provide a native learning app that allows Saudi women to ‘chat’ to native speakers without showing their faces

  • To provide a learning app that promotes fun learning to keep the Saudi learner captivated and engaged.

 

My Role:                 

User Researcher, UX designer

Understanding the User
Primary Persona

The project was designed from a user-centered approach, focusing on its primary person​a.

Meet Maha.

Maha

Storyboard

This storyboard best illustrates what emotions and pain points Maha experiences when trying to learn new vocabulary in English.

  1. Maha lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where, due to cultural restrictions it's difficult for her to travel or meet natives to speak English with. 

  2. She fears she will never get the chance to practise her English.

  3. Thanks to the internet Maha can connect with people online through social media.

  4. However, Maha realises that she doesn't have enough English vocabulary to carry a conversation.

  5. So, she tries a couple apps to improve her English language skills.

  6. But soon discovers that many of the apps don't fit her needs: they're either too easy, or boring or irrelevant to her needs. She fears she will never connect with the outside world.

  7. Finally, she discovers WORDCHAT and finds it meets all her needs: it's simple to use and the content is relevant and engaging. 

  8. Maha learns new vocabulary in a fun way and gains the confidence to connect with the outside world.

Maha's Challenges

Findings from User research revealed that Maha faces the following challenges that need to be addressed:

Maha's needs can be better expressed in the following user and job stories:

PROBLEM STATEMENT

Maha needs a way to memorize and learn new vocabulary in a fun and efficient way because she wants to develop her English speaking skills and apply it to real social context.

Proposed solutions

Introducing WORDCHAT, a mobile app that will enable Maha to perform the following functions:

Sitemaps & Sketches
Onboarding
Learn & Play
Speak & Feedback
Review Progress
Usability Testing

WORDCHAT was put to the test to see how easily the participant could carry out the main tasks below.

The prototype was tested on 5 Saudi female students that fit the persona profile.

These 5 tasks were tested as the main functions that will empower Maha to learn new vocabulary.

Direct Tasks

 

  1. Learn new vocabulary.

  2. Add words to Favourites list.

  3. Play the 'Video Star' game.

  4. Book a call with a tutor.

  5. Check your progress.

Key Findings

The project was designed from a user-centered approach, focusing on its primary person​a.

Meet Maha.

I don't know where to go!"

"I don't understand this icon."

I like how simple it looks and it's so easy to use!

Key Issues:

Using the Jakob Nielsen's severity rating scale, findings reveal that some navigation issues hindered participants' ability to complete a task easily.

There was no Log in button presented on the log in page.

Users were not able to identify some of the icons in the tool bar.

There was no way to navigate to home page from the Favourites page.

Key Issues Revealed

Findings from the usability testing report lead to the following improvements:

Design Problem #1

Add a Log in button  on the log in page.

Navigation issue: No log in button (High Severity)
Design Problem #2

Change 'progress' icon and provide labels in tool bar.

Navigation issue: icon  (High Severity)
Design Problem #3

Add tool bar to allow better navigation between pages.

Navigation issue: no toolbar (High Severity)
Next Steps

After the first round of testing and iterations, the next steps would be to;

  • conduct further rounds of testing

  • continuously collect feedback to identify undetected issues.

  • make necessary improvements to ensure that Maha's experience with WORDCHAT is easy, fun and effective.

Our journey ends with a happy Maha!

Video presentation
Project Insights

What was learnt?

  • I learnt that it is important to keep the design simple and to focus more on functionality during the early stages of the Design Thinking Process.

  • Applying a user-centered approach in UX design allowed me to empathise with the user and create an engaging experience for them.

  • I really enjoyed the user research and testing stages. It was rewarding for me to see how participants interacted with something I created.

What could be improved?

As this was my first UX project there is definitely a lot of room for improvement, particularly in applying UI design principles to create a finished prototype.

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© 2019 by Caroline Cieslikowska