Japanese Language Proficiency Application


Serious Japanese learners are interested in taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. They want to pass the test but are more motivated to improve their Japanese language fluency. I aimed to create a product that would allow users the opportunity to study and improve their Japanese how they want while simultaneously comparing their progress to JLPT standards.

My users are serious Japanese learners (ie. those who study regularly) planning to take the JLPT in the near future.
Research & Analysis

I first needed to better understand the needs and wants of the core user in order to make sure I could create a product to satisfy those needs. To do this, I conducted a qualitative research study with Japanese learners and synthesized the data I uncovered.

Research Synthesis I

After analyzing and organizing my research, I discovered two key findings from the qualitative study:

x-axis=value, y-axis=complexity

These key findings gave me insight into features I could implement in this product that would address user needs. I then organized and prioritized potential features and narrowed in on what would be best to design and in what order.
Concepts & Sketching

Next I began sketching some concepts to layout the feature priorities I intended to design. I labeled each quick sketch with a note stating what the user would do on that screen and which feature it was.

Paper Sketches - Iteration 1

Digital Prototype - Iteration 1


I starting some low fidelity prototyping and improved the functionality after some user testing. I had users click through and talk me through their thoughts.

User Flow: Intro Quiz

I began to add color and typography to the prototype and started developing the style guide and visual elements.
After laying out visual elements I started to review and improve my prototype to meet accessibility standards and the user experience.
Validation, Usability, Feedback

I set up several unmoderated usability tests with various users to test the Intro Quiz User Flow within the app. After watching the user recordings and taking notes I started to notice some common issues and patterns.
Usability Test Insights

-Users were not sure if they completed the task
-Users have extended time on second task because they are not aware that the first task has been completed
-Users re-clicked the same pages multiple times trying to add more than one task to the profile
Suggested Improvements

-Adding a “success” message after the task is completed
-Changing the copy from “3+” to “1 or more” or something similar to let users know that they are able to move on and complete the task without specifically adding multiple study topics

This usability testing insights gave me a more clear goal of improvement on this user flow. I wanted to Decrease Time on Task for Intro Quiz Flow and improve the user experience.

Hypotheses: Users would continue through to the study material and not drop off if they had a clear indicator that their selections were saved. Many users redid the same steps in the flow without knowing if it was effective or not and were unsure whether they could or should proceed. 

A solution to this could be showing users a very clear “saved” or “success” message when they finish each task and to follow that with a suggested next step module popover.
Click through a user flow of the Japanese Study App prototype made with Figma here.
In creating the Japanese Study App, my process was thoughtful and strategic. I wanted to get the necessary data first and figure out which problems I needed to solve. Originally I thought that users needed a better tool to study for the JLPT but after my research I found out that isn’t actually what users wanted. It was really fun and interesting to work on this type of project and I would definitely do it all again!

During this project I was able to use design and layout skills but additionally critical thinking skills. Upon analyzing my research I found that I needed to pause and really understand what the data was telling me; which was very rewarding when it was time to iterate on my design overall. Reflecting on my progress, I was able to solve an issue for the user in letting them learn Japanese how they want and make progress towards their Japanese fluency and JLPT proficiency at the same time. There is yet still work to be done. I would also like to dive deeper into this type of educational product development and continue to provide solutions for Japanese study-ers!
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