Designing a vocabulary learning app that maximizes memorization

Spaced Repetition System (SRS) 📊

While researching on why memorization is so hard, I came across the “forgetting curve”. This is a concept that hypothesizes that memory tends to decline in a curve over a period of elapsed time.

Model depicting forgetting curve (Credit: wikipedia.org)
Visual diagram of the SRS method (Credit: wikipedia.org)

Design Process

As I began to start this project, I defined the process I would take. I made sure to constantly lean back on the user as well as the product story to ensure an iterative process as opposed to a linear one.

Design process outline for this project

Step 1: Research 🔬

I then conducted some user interviews and research with my fellow classmates at my university Korean language class. Here were some of the major insights

Hardest part about learning vocabulary?

  • Memorizing and recalling
  • Not knowing what words to to study

What methods are currently used?

  • Flashcards
  • Reading + Looking up words
  • Consuming K-dramas, Korean media

What would help this process?

  • Curriculum/prescribed words
  • Integrated flashcard system
  • Pronunciation guide
  • Real life example (video, excerpt)

Step 2. Empathy 🙋🏽

To compile and make sense of the findings during research, I created a persona analysis to have a better idea of what the main user would be feeling and needing, both before and after using DANO.

Persona Analysis

Product Story 📖

After compiling the research as well as having laid out the details of the main persona, I created an overarching product story so that I could steer my decision making process according to the scope and insights found. This would ensure that I always keep the user and their pain points in mind.

Step 4: Ideation & Feature Prioritization 🗒

I used the MoSCoW framework of prioritizing features for the app before I got started on any prototypes.

Step 4: Designing 🧑‍💻

Sign-up

To create a bespoke experience for the user, the onboarding process includes questions that would help to tailor the daily use of the app to the user. This would allow for the self-paced nature of self-study, while also providing enough structure such that the process isn’t too overwhelming.

Onboarding

To ensure new users are familiar with the apps functions and flow, a minimal, non-intrusive onboarding tutorial begins on the first use.

Onboarding walkthrough

Lessons

The first step to memorizing vocabulary using DANO is to be introduced to the words. I used the Sogang University Modern Standard Korean textbook as a guide to outline the lesson curriculum, as it covers essential vocab in an organized way. This decision was influenced by the major user insight that self-studying was often overwhelming and made it hard to outline a clear path.

Example lesson screens

Reviews

The second (and most imperative) part of the vocabulary learning process is the Reviews. To address the pain point of the forgetting curve and lack of retention, these reviews will be ordered in a way that prioritizes previously incorrect vocabulary (according to the SRS method). This will allow the user to focus their time on the most important words that they tend to get wrong more often. Correctly answered words will be tested, however, at much less frequency. These decisions allow for the user’s efforts to be maximized in the right direction to improve overall efficiency when memorizing.

Both English-to-Korean and Korean-to-English recall is used

Step 5: Reflection 🤔

This project allowed me to practice my user experience design skills by creating a solution to a problem and keeping the user in mind throughout the entire process.

Next Steps

To further evaluate the user experience, I plan to hold user interviews to demo the app and provide feedback on areas of improvement — after all, this is an iterative process!

Introducing DANO! 🇰🇷

Why DANO?

DANO is named after the Korean word for vocabulary — 단어 (dan-eo), and it’s initials, ㄷㅇ, are incorporated into the logo iconography.

Walkthrough →

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Aman Sharma

Aman Sharma

Product Designer @ TOHacks, Marketing Student at Schulich School of Business