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4 weeks

December 2022 - January 2023

Mobile App

Desktop App

Erica Nieves ( Me ^_^ )
Seungyong Han
Jon Steib




Google Drive

Project Background

Duolingo is a popular online platform and mobile application that offers free language learning courses. Duolingo provides a gamified and interactive approach to language learning, making it engaging and accessible to a wide range of learners. The platform offers courses in numerous languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and many more. Duolingo's mission is to make education free and accessible to all, and it has gained widespread popularity for its user-friendly interface, personalized learning experience, and effective language learning methodology.

As good as Duolingo is at helping users dive into a language, its AI chatbots fall short of providing the needed help when it comes to conversations. Because of this, Duolingo wants to somehow leverage the community to help provide that for its users.

The Problem

Duolingo lacks in providing conversational practice.


I actively participated in the interview process, and as a team, we collaborated to synthesize our research findings. In order to effectively synthesize our research, we determined that affinity mapping was the most suitable approach, leading us to several key conclusions.

  • Connectivity

    • Language learners found speaking with native speakers to be quite helpful with practicing

  • ​Safety

    • ​Although they found native speakers to be helpful they expressed apprehension about engaging in conversations with unfamiliar individuals.

  • ​Flexibility

    • People learning a language have many different reasons to learn and thus require different conversational skills


Users need a way to put themselves in real life situations because they do not feel that they are ready to hold a conversation with another speaker.

How we address this:

  • Connect users together to exchange language

  • Make sure that people feel comfortable talking to one another by offering some sort of safety feature

  • Make sure that what people learned would be relevant to what they needed


Once our goals were established, I facilitated a design studio session with my team members, during which we generated several ideas. After discussing the ideas we had generated, we decided to merge certain elements and proceeded to sketch rough drafts based on this amalgamation.

Then I focused on digitizing the sketches and creating a wireframe for the mobile app, while my teammates dedicated their efforts to crafting the wireframe for the desktop version.

Then I focused on digitizing the sketches and creating a wireframe for the mobile app, while my teammates dedicated their efforts to crafting the wireframe for the desktop version.


Eager to commence testing, I wasted no time in setting up a usability test using Maze. I actively promoted the test to recruit participants and successfully received 14 responses. However, I discovered that prioritizing quality over quantity would have been preferable, as some of the responses lacked the desired level of information. From the results we gathered that : 

Users had trouble understanding some of the icons and that they were not as intuitive as I thought

Some people were trying to advance ahead without completing the current procedure

The directions were not clear enough


Now that we had our feedback on our design I went in and updated to make changes accordingly.

I updated the homescreen with a new icon that was more intuitive for messaging.

I removed the “Choose your DuoPal” button and had it only appear after the user had chosen their scenarios.

I revised the directions to ensure that the user's preferred language for speaking appeared first, followed by the language they would be using when interacting with their partner after switching roles.

Final Design

Our final design ended up being a DM feature at heart but with a feature that had users choose from a scenario to act out with their Duopal.

Future Steps

As good as the improvement was in our usability test results there were still some issues that needed to be addressed

  • I would like to add an additional screen that users would see once clicking on the messaging icon and then have them go to choose a scenario.

  • An idea that my team and I had in mind was to add language tools in our design but because of time constraints we were unable to follow through with that so it would be nice to be able to add that in.

  • From our interviews many expressed how communicating verbally would help them learn faster than through text but they felt more at ease communicating through text so I would like to add a feature where they are able to send voice messages for those who feel more comfortable with verbal communication.


This whole project was quite the journey and I learned quite a few things from it. I learned that:

  • I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to interviews and usability testing.

    • I learned that it is better to sit down with users and see them go through the process with a design rather than just sending out a link for multiple people to try. By sitting down with the users I was able to hear their thought process and see the issues that the users may not even noticed they were struggling with.

  • Nothing is set in stone and you always have to be flexible and willing to change things around to accommodate any issues that arise.

    • For this particular project one of my teammates(Teammate 1) had some personal issues that came up and was not able to be as present for the sprint. Due to this me and my other teammate(Teammate 2) not only had to quickly figure out how we would divide the work between us but also how we would continue through the design process while making sure Teammate 1 was still in the loop on what was happening and was able to offer input when they could.

  • Collaboration is key in designing.

    • My teammates both brought different perspectives that I never would have considered and we all had our strengths and weaknesses. Where I fell short my fellow teammates were able to take charge and help me along where as I did the same when they were facing any obstacle.

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