This UX case study focuses on finding a more effective method to enhance the learning experiences of Japanese language learners.


Client: Capstone Project | Category: Educational Technology (Ed Tech) | Year: 2020 | Role: User Experience Designer (UX)

Japan has transformed into a popular tourist destination because of its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, stunning landscapes, and captivating events, leading to an increasing interest in learning Japanese in the United States. A report from 2018 revealed that Japanese has now become the fifth most studied language in the U.S. As someone learning Japanese, I was inspired to design a personalized learning experience for other learners. Therefore, this UX case study explores the experiences of Japanese language learners, aiming to bridge the gap in learning that students encounter when using language learning apps.


To effectively tackle a problem, it is crucial to begin by clearly defining the issue. To address the challenges faced by Japanese learners, I initially conducted secondary research to gain deeper insights. Achieving fluency in a second language demands dedication, time, and motivation. Apart from traditional classes, many students use language apps to support their learning. However, these apps often lack interactive features, leading to decreased user motivation. Consequently, students struggle to find additional resources to supplement their studies. Once the problem was identified, I focused on understanding these learners better. The subsequent step involved creating a comprehensive research plan incorporating UX methodologies like user surveys, interviews, and affinity mapping.

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User Interview Quotes

  1. “When you’re studying on your own and you don’t have a goal, you don’t know when you get there. It can be demotivating if you don’t have a marker of proof that you have succeeded.”
  2. "Regarding immersion, it just didn’t 
feel real enough. Most of it is just 
‘What does this mean?’ or ‘How do you say this?’ sort of thing.”
  3. “I’m not losing this, I spent all this time, I need to keep sharpening the knife even though it gets duller everyday.”
  4. “Personally it would be really helpful for someone or something to be like, ‘oh you shouldn’t use it that way.’ ‘This is a better way to say that.’ etc.”
  5. “It’s harder to continuously learn when you don’t understand vs. let me show you what you already know. There is a feedback loop of ‘I don’t get it’ but ‘I do get this’ and that gives you a little more confidence to keep going.”
  6. “There were not any sections explaining Japanese culture [which  think is helpful] or atleast from my last experience.”

Problem Statement

"One of the primary limitations of language learning apps is the lack of interaction"

HMW Statements

HMW statements helped to clearly define the issues that users were encountering, which was the primary objective of this study. Moreover, these statements provided a platform to brainstorm potential solutions, making them a vital component of UX/UI design. Once the How Might We statements were crafted, it was imperative to select which ones would serve as solutions for the project's development. After assessing the collected data and project constraints, the decision was made to proceed with the statement:

"How might we create an interactive experience for language learners and relieve the confusion they feel when reviewing Japanese they are new to learning?"

Wireframing from Paper to Digital

Lo Fidelity Wireframe

After visualizing a site map and user flows, creating sketches was the next step that followed. Sketching was essential to designing the potential layout of the product and mapping the content within the product. After reviewing the sketches, they were recreated digitally in Figma as lo-fidelity wireframes for IOS. The wireframe consists of the learn page which is the landing page for users, a review page, examples of lesson and review sessions, a community page, an account page as well as onboarding screens. Once the lo-fidelity wireframes were completed, the next step of the process was acquiring participants for guerilla usability testing to test the usability, discover insights, and create improvements.

Usability Test Results and Insights

After conducting usability testing, I gathered valuable insights that helped me understand the users' perspective and identify areas in the app that required enhancement. I instructed the users to imagine themselves as beginner Japanese language learners. When they accessed the lesson page, they consistently sought the alphabet chart before starting a lesson, emphasizing the need to include it in the hi-fidelity prototype. During the alphabet lesson, users attempted to trace the letters in the writing practice section and expressed interest in seeing the stroke order. Additionally, it was noted that each tester had difficulty finding the review page quickly. Recognizing this, I decided to include a shortcut to the review page on the learn page. With these insights in mind, the next step involved implementing these changes and developing the hi-fidelity screens.

Final Insights Gained from Usability Testing

After developing the high-fidelity screens, conducting usability tests with thirteen participants provided valuable insights. To adapt to the global pandemic and safety measures, the tests were conducted online using Figma and Zoom for observation. Testers interacted with the prototype while completing tasks related to Japanese language learning. One key insight was that users faced challenges due to lengthy pages and complex content. Additionally, participants not familiar with Japanese struggled with specific terms and symbols. Lastly, users found it hard to remember correct answers during language review sessions. These findings led to design enhancements aimed at addressing these issues and improving the overall user experience.

Wireflow 1
Wireflow 2

The Solution

"How might we create an interactive experience for language learners and relieve the confusion they feel when reviewing Japanese they are new to learning?" The solution is “Dandan”, an app designed for learning Japanese. The app consists of five main sections: learn, review, community, account, and rewards. Within the learn section, users can explore various Japanese topics. During the alphabet lessons, users follow the correct sequence to learn each letter and practice writing. Additionally, there is a culture segment where users can delve into cultural aspects like festivals. The review section enables users to track progress and revisit topics. In the community section, users can receive answers to questions they have about Japan, get translations, and connect with other language learners. Next is the account section for managing user information. The rewards page serves to encourage users studying Japanese to utilize their language capabilities beyond the digital environment in a real-world setting and witness their continuous growth.

DanDan Hi Fi MockUp
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