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Ready, Set, Fluent!

"Ready, Set, Fluent! is a conduit to connect you to your favorite resources that you now can use to learn language. This can include less common things such as YouTube, Buzzfeed, DailyByte, and Ars Technica, as well as commonly integrated language learning apps such as Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or Mango Languages. Many people don’t commonly see things like YouTube or the other aforementioned websites as language learning platforms, but they can be! All it takes is pointing that out, and reorienting your brain space."

Ready, Set, Fluent! (RSF) was designed as a proof of concept for a previous class (Spring 2017) which introduced me to the concept of rapid prototyping and pitching projects. Designed as a part of a group, we sought to create an app not to teach language, but solve the problem of a myriad of choice. Several options exist for learners, but it's not always easy to determine what's best for them. After asking many questions and deciding what each member of our group was passionate about, we came to language acquisition for college-age / young adults.

 
 
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Process

We began by working through several iterations of what our app might look like or do. Initially, we wanted to design a fully fledged app, the likes of which would dazzle even Steve Jobs. Instead, we opted for a mobile-optimized website, for a few reasons:

  1. Websites are much easier to make initially accessible, with fairly minimal effort - just the right amount of knowledge and foresight. As a result of being accessible, we would end up with a more useful (and usable) end product.
  2. We would end up with the same look in the end, only running the app through a browser instead of from memory. This reduces the barrier to entry. This also allowed us to alleviate any issues of storage and allow learners access without deciding to delete the Spotify or Facebook app to make room first.
  3. Because we'd be directing many people to their favorite news sites, social media sites and services, or other multimedia, it would be easier to do this via the web rather than having to depend on what a user might have installed and not, thereby running the risk of bogging down their experience.

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User Testing

After this we began the process of user testing, wherein each member of our team conducted two interviews to get a sense of how the app would perform in the wild. 

Our users seemed receptive to the idea of using RSF the way we had intended, and in the end, much preferred it to finding their own resources via Google or word-of-mouth.

Through the testing, we ended up removing several elements so as to reduce distraction and clutter, and introduced a simple questionnaire to the user to further tailor the experience to their needs.


 While only a brief mockup of our functional design, it won over judges in our presentation.

While only a brief mockup of our functional design, it won over judges in our presentation.

Deliverables

After finalizing our testing and designs, we ended up with the presentation above, which we presented a 15 minute pitch to our "stakeholders," played by our classmates. This included Q&A, brief market evaluation, and establishing need.

We also utilized a prototype generator, MarvelApp, which produces a digitally interactive demo from a paper sketch. This demo was was utilized during our pitch and served to illustrate how the RSF mobile site would operate. 

Access our demo here (opens in new window).


Take Aways and Impacts

I gained a lot of experience in rapid prototyping through this project. Further, I was exposed to and practiced design thinking. Having spent the semester building up knowledge in design thinking and design sprints, paper prototyping, and needs analysis throughout this class, it was fulfilling to utilize the skills in a real-world scenario. I was also able to utilize skills in digital accessibility, which we aimed to include from the beginning of our project.

Our project also manged to address a growing need in the digital language learning market - where to start. Doing our research for this project showed us that there's a plethora of options available for most people, but choosing the best option for them is a huge barrier to entry. By utilizing a basic version of RSF, our users had much more joy and conviction in their language learning journeys than they had previously had on their own.