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Learn Vocabulary on the go!

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VOGO: The Vocabulary Learning App (Case Study)


VOGO is a Vocabulary Learning Mobile Application that allows users to quickly learn word/term definitions they hear and see every day or from individualized in-app categories; on their own time, anywhere they go. 

Objective: to empower people to learn new vocabulary or terminology


Target: busy people, about 35-45 years old, who want to improve their careers & leisure


When: a moment to oneself (5-10 minutes)


Where: anywhere (e.g., lunch break, waiting for a meeting, the night before a work presentation, traveling, or during kids' activities. Any moment they have.


Marvel, PowerPoint, Loom, Skype, Google Form, Photoshop, Illustrator

Hardware: pencil, pen, paper, iPhone, laptop


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Before I started building the app, I did competitive analyses by studying almost 10 existing applications in the App Store. These are just three of the apps I studied. 

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  • Free, no sign up/registration required

  • Simple navigation and clean graphics

  • Shows learning progression

  • Easy & short step-by-step guidelines

  • Alternative choices of accent (British / American) - WordUp

  • Translate in user’s preferred language and able to choose if user would like the translation displayed before or after  - WordUp

  • Provide various sample formats (e.g., movies, songs, sentences) - WordUp

  • Include listening skills practice  - WordUp

  • Build your own flashcards – Tinycards

  • Includes spelling practice - Tinycards


  • Have to go through every word in the suggestion deck even though you may already know the words - Tinycards

  • Limited selection of vocabulary words - Learn Words

  • Occasional cluttered UI design - WordUp

  • No pronunciation for non-English words – Tinycards

  • No filter to select interesting language – Tinycards


After I understood the market and my competitors, I interviewed four people between the ages of 35-45 that have different occupations. Two of them live in Hawaii, and the other two live in the continental U.S. I asked a series of questions on their experiences with learning new vocabulary to find out how they learned, thought, and felt about it. This will help create a valuable application that serves users' needs and behaviors to empower them to learn.


  • Look up by category.

  • Often use Google search, YouTube, LinkedIn and basic phone internet searches for a quick search.

  • Practice repetition.

  • Look up on online dictionary.

  • Note & write down new words and examples on a small piece of paper.

  • Practice with friends to see real-life applications.


  • I think hearing the word in conversations helps a lot in my daily life.

  • I think that having the desire or passion for learning makes the learning fun and not forced.

  • I think having good, trustworthy online or mobile resources
    is helpful.

  • I think repetition is the most efficient way to learn.

  • I think the level of frustration depends on the skill of the learner. For beginners, it would be more frustrating as almost every word is new and they need to spend more time learning it.


  • I feel it is irritating to learn in a short period of time and when the explanation is long/wordy or too complicated.

  • I don’t feel confident if I don’t know how to use the word correctly.

  • I enjoy learning new languages and cultures because it is part of a journey.

  • I find it difficult when words have multiple meanings, and it's hard to determine which meaning is being spoken or written.

  • I struggle when the material/class moves too quickly, if the instructor is monotonous / dreary, or the example given isn’t relatable.



From the user interview, I would like to introduce you to Janis, my persona - a busy wife and senior data analyst.


Age:                   40
Gender:             Female
Education:         College degree
Nationality:       American
Occupation:     Senior Data Analyst
Location:           From LA, living in Hawaii
Hobbies:            Exercise, music, travel, spending time with her child
Status:               Married, one child


Behavior & Background

  • A busy Data Analyst with one child who works from 8 am – 4 pm, has lots of meetings, new assignments, and presentations for her boss and team.

  • Likes learning by doing, enjoys interacting with people.

  • Spends free time reading short articles on internet & listening to music.

  • Gets easily distracted, sets a reminder for every meeting.

  • Always writes down notes, or often use Note application on her mobile phone.

  • Likes to talk to locals and eat local food while traveling.

Needs & Goals

  • To learn new vocabulary and terminologies in short time, able to practice often and quickly. 

  • Interesting lesson formats such as pictures, music, movies, or various examples.

  • Multiple languages with pronunciation practicing.

  • App that is easy to search, almost like a dictionary.  Also, grouping the suggested word under categories to shorten search time and ability to search by voice.

  • I just got promoted to Senior Data Analyst; I need to learn a lot of new vocabulary & terminology for my presentations, and need to be able to write down my own words & details so I can reuse them as need.


Janis (Senior Data Analyst) needs a way to learn new vocabulary or terms in a bite-size lesson. It should be easy to search and fun to practice, whenever and wherever she goes. Because she doesn’t have much free time, she easily gets distracted and often unexpectedly needs to learn new words for her work and leisure conversations.


I believe that to create an application where she can do quick searches either by word or by category that matches her immediate interest or need, view multiple examples in various types of media formats (e.g., video, music, or conversations from TV or movies) that she can access at her leisure, and have the addable/editable flashcard/note card function, would make lessons convenient, easy to practice, and less time consuming for her. 

task analysis


I performed task analysis by using two main tasks my persona wants to achieve to create user flow.


The first task is searching for language interests and categories. The succession point is finding exact categories or topics the user wants to learn at that moment, in the desired language.

The second task is building flashcards. The succession point is having the user create new flashcards by themselves or by searching trustworthy online sources and saving it for learning later.

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I use Crazy 8 and dot-voting techniques to decide how the app should function and what makes the most sense to the user based on the problem and hypothesis statements. My first task is to find a word or category the user needs to learn from the dashboard (or Home screen).

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Task 1:   Learn vocabulary

Task 2:  Add new deck of flashcards

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  • Add “Forgot Password” on sign-up screen

  • Rearrange main menu on Home Screen; give priority to "Look for a Word", "Add New", then "Most Popular"

  • Combine "Play" and "Quiz" buttons to “Play”

  • Add function to display all words under the category. Add filter to see word by subcategory

  • Remove estimate learning time

  • Add "Search" function so user can search for words when they are in suggested categories

  • Add sub functions: "Add New Deck", or "Add New Word to Existing Deck (or Existing Category)"

  • Add functions “Search from Google” and “Search from your device” when clicking on "adding Music, Video, Link, Details" icons

  • Add function “Add New Card” in the app’s suggested category, but also flag that it is created by user, not original from the application

  • Add function “Add New Card” (plus icon) under edit function

  • Add "Pencil" icon to the deck cover area

  • Add function “Play” in My Deck

  • Add function “Bookmark to designated categories / deck”


  • Do more competitive analysis and user interviews to keep practicing

  • Reiterate prototype and usability testing

  • Add sign-up process and other functions of this app

  • Build a higher level prototype




  • Allocate more time for each stage, especially when collaborating with users (interview and usability testing.)

  • Crazy 8 is the best technique to reduce time when designing a prototype. It can be time consuming in the beginning, but once familiar with it, you can reduce to designs to 3-4 variations.. 

  • More focus on function, not drawing. I am a visual person, but I should not spend too much time drawing, but instead focus on functionality.

  • Perfection is imperfection: there is always room to improve. I need to continue revisiting my challenges, user needs, and prototype.

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