Vocabulary Study app

Case Study

Vocabulary Study
Project type
User Experience Design Case Study
project year

About the Project

One of my very first official UX school projects was a design sprint centered around a vocabulary language learning app. The purpose was to explore and analyze the experience of memorizing and understanding new concepts, techniques, and terms by researching and designing an app to learn new vocabulary. The goal of the project was to practice using the design thinking process and lean about the importance of the steps.


Empower people to learn new vocabulary. In order to for my users to achieve learning new vocabulary, I brainstormed ideas that would allow busy people to learn new vocabulary and review previous lessons.

View Prototype
Project Duration
1 week
My Role
Research | UX Design
User Research
User Needs
User Flows / Task Analysis
Information Architecture
User Testing

The 5 W's of the Vocabulary App

People of all ages and backgrounds take courses to challenge themselves, further their careers, or purely for the enjoyment of learning. Many , including myself, believe that learning something new is a critical life skill no matter age, location, or circumstances.

Being said, it can be difficult to design a product or service that meets everyone's needs and circumstances at the same time. After all the world is full of all types of users.


Starting with who, the target audience is defined as people who are interested in learning a new language or building their vocabulary in a language they are already familiar with.


A mobile app focused on learning new vocabulary. But is that all? How might we create a peak user experience in which more than just one type of user can enjoy using the app?

When and Where?

The app is meant to be used as an on-the-go 5 to 10 minute session study aid. It can be used while waiting for a coffee date or between classes.


It can be difficult to keep track of all the jargon when studying a new discipline or trying to learn a new language.

Problem Statement:

Users need a way to learn new languages that can accomodate their busy schedules. In addition, they need an app that helps them retain what they have learned. We will know this is true when we see users making progress in the app by completing lesson reviews.


We believe that by developing an app that can incorporate two or more learning styles and provide daily lesson reviews user's will retain more of what they are learning.

Researching the Competitors

I began by evaluating a few existing mobile applications that are well known for learning new languages and vocabulary. By doing so, I gained a better idea of the field and what competitors are out there on the market. I identified 3 mobile applications that focused specifically on vocabulary learning. I then downloaded each app to my phone and began researching, outlining the positives and negatives of each app. In addition, I took note of the user reviews left in the app store. I love looking at these in particular because they give a unique insight to what/how the user feels about the app's features and user experience.

Competitive Analysis Link

Guerilla Research

Due to the time constraints and the small scope of the project I opted for a quicker and cost effective interview technique. I went and immediately found three coworkers during my free time and instantly started asking them a few simple questions before diving right in and getting to the purpose of the research. I interviewed my coworkers on which, if any, vocabulary learning apps they use or have used in the past and under what circumstances. My intent was to learn about their frustrations and any opportunities that I can turn into advantages.

User Research Link

Key Points From Interviews


Overwhelmed by complex learning situations, ie. sentence structure.

Too busy with other school subjects and activities to keep up with learning.

No opportunities to practice with someone else.

Limited learning styles makes everything confusing.


Combination of learning styles to accommodate users

Add option for daily lesson and review reminders .

Feature that allows users to connect via social media with other users to practice vocabulary.

Visual interactions to keep users engaged.

What are they saying?

"When I was studying Japanese in college I reached a point where I felt that I hit the ceiling and couldn’t learn anymore. I got to the point that I was overwhelmed with the sentence structure of Japanese."

"I want to learn Spanish. My entire family can speak it and I can’t. It’s my heritage. I want to learn so I can join in on the conversations."

Proto Persona


We believe that by developing an app that can incorporate two or more learning styles that Holly prefers and provide daily lesson reviews Holly will retain more of what she is learning from the app thus improving her Spanish language skills.

User Stories

As a language learner I want an app that uses audio/visual representations that I can adapt to my learning style so I can retain what I am learning without becoming frustrated.

As a 2nd generation American I want to be able to speak / understand Spanish when I am with family members that speak Spanish so that I can have a closer cultural connection to my family members that are older than me. 

As a school psychologist I want to be able to understand and speak with students that have difficulty with English so I can provide better counseling services. 

Holly's family speaks Spanish when they are together in family settings. She knows some Spanish but not enough to carry on a full conversation

She sometimes has meetings with parents that only speak Spanish. It's a bit awkward for her because she doesn't understand much and feels left out.

She took Spanish in school but it really didn't stick. It was hard for her to remember what she had learned because of her learning style and busy class schedule.

She did a search in the app store and has found a Spanish language app that she feels fits her learning style and needs.

With Hablame! Holly can drag and drop words to complete sentences. She is also able to review her lessons and practice when she has down time.

She can now understand Spanish more easily and she feels comfortable joining in on conversations.

Task Analysis and User Flows

After analysing and synthesizing all of my research I identified two main tasks Holly would take accomplish her goal. The user flow helps visualize how we expect our personas to move through the information space of our application via user flows.

Rapid Prototyping and Creating an MVP

Now that I have identified a persona, problem, and the primary tasks needed to reach a potential solution, I began sketching wireframes to build out a low fidelity prototype or MVP of the final product. The purpose of creating an MVP is to focus is on finding the simplest solution while considering the needs of the user without the product going in the wrong direction.

App Feature Requirements and User Circumstances

Everyone wants an app to be intuitive, fast, and simple to use. But we need to be more specific and that's where I bring in all my previous research to help me sketch ideas and create a prototype that helps the user's achieve their goal. Based off of the user story and task analysis I started some rough paper sketches before creating an MVP for user testing.

Using The Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop

"Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple..."
Johan Cruyff

WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER. I first heard a variation of that when I was playing soccer in Sweden. It was how my coach explained playing simple; reading the game and making play predictable. We played not only with our athleticism but our insights dictating the flow of the game.

Why do I bring this up? Because UX should be simple but it is sometimes difficult to practice simple UX. By applying principles of Lean UX and using the BML Feedback loop I was able to prototype and create an MVP and reduce waste; wasting time, energy, focus, and not to mention everyone else's time.

View Prototype

Low Fidelity Screens

Usability Testing

I've stood in front of players and crowds of coaches and presented soccer tactics and put on demos hundreds of times. However, my first time user testing a product that I created was absolutely nerve wracking. Unfortunately, I was unable to conduct in person user testing with this project. So remote it was. During testing I learned that I was in such a rush to create an MVP that I left out a few core features from the project requirements. Results showed that users had no issues completing lessons but had questions about checking their overall progress and sending review. Few users had minor issues adding vocabulary words but some wanted to categorize their vocabulary words.

Insights and Future Plans

I always want to design the Peak Experience for all users but I also know this was my first experience with a UX Design project on this level. In hindsight, I would have tested more along the way keeping the core features in mind. Some simple, "hey, can you complete this task for me real quick and let me know your thoughts?" with one person would have been extremely helpful and insightful.

Spend more time iterating and bouncing ideas off other designers and people. I learned that constant and consistent feedback can help facilitate the design process and kick start creativity. I wasn't designing in a vacuum but there were times that I could have definitely used a push in the right direction. I learned to use Slack, Miro, and other UX tools to communicate with other designers and generate shared ideas.

When I have more time I would like to go back and add a little more to this project and polish it up some. Perhaps improve and add some of the features that I missed in the initial design phase and maybe create a style guide as well. Anyway, thank you for your time. I really do appreciate it!

Let's work together!

If you are looking to connect to a creative and driven UX Designer then you have come to the right place. I'm always open for discussion.

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