Motivated in part by my own experiences, I designed a tablet app to help people learn languages on their own. Over eight weeks, I conducted interviews, researched existing tools, mapped the service, iterated on screens, and shot and animated this video.
Who is this thing for?
My first step was to talk to language learners as well as language teachers. It became clear that for self-teachers, most learning took place in the gaps between their day-to-day responsibilities, and that their learning styles and levels of dedication varied dramatically.
Lay of the Land
I researched different kinds of tools available to language learners, and through interview results and other reviews created this chart to figure out how the tool I was making would fit within this ecosystem.
Studying existing tools allowed me to piece together possible synergous relationships between them. For example, shared flash card sets work very well with a smart search — sentence examples and more can be pulled from shared cards when a user searches.
Connecting the Dots
Now knowing what parts I wanted to include in the tool, I constructed a system map outlining how it all would fit together. Finally, the broad concepts coalesced into one cohesive idea and I could start thinking about screens and user flows.
Pen + Paper
Initial wireframes were based on several key pieces I knew the app needed. Many screens (such as one for multiplayer learning games and another for the tagging system) were laid out but not included in the final video.
I iterated on screen designs by putting in-progress mockups in front of learners who fit my personas and figuring out what felt most intuitive and engaging. To make the app come alive, I brought my PSDs into After Effects and animated them to fit the story.