Julia Nasser
UX designer
Made with

AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator

Sept 2017 - Dec 2017

The Problem

Language barriers are arguably one of the biggest struggles people face when visiting foreign countries. As the world becomes more globalized, understanding various cultures and languages is becoming more of a necessity than an option, especially for those who work abroad. In the first year of my undergrad, a group of fellow students and I designed and prototyped a concept for a mobile app that could tackle this issue. 

Research & Development

AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App

Surveys

To gain a better understanding of our target audience, we first sent out surveys to contacts who had recently worked in a foreign setting and asked them questions regarding their experiences.

The survey we created was 5 questions and was hosted on Google forms. Ten people responded to the survey which gave us some basic information about our target demographicMost respondents were males between the ages of 34 and 56, have a Bachleor's degree, and work in business or manufacturing. Some main pain points of working in a foreign setting were as follows: 

  • Issues with asking for directions, ordering food, and communicating complex ideas to people who did not speak the same language. 
  • This often lead to frustration and negativity, lack of productivity, and a lower quality of life
Based on these results, we sought to focus on a solution that encourages smoother interactions between locals and foreigners.


AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App

Persona

From our data, we constructed a user persona which helped us better understand our target audience. We discovered that our average user may be impatient when it comes to communication. Additionally, we were able to determine that our user group is looking for a simpler way to connect to others and work more efficiently with them.  

Specifically, our persona Sean Thomas, is a businessman who is looking for a way to grow his business internationally. However, he often feels frustrated or impatient when working with foreign clients due to miscommunication.

User Journey

I decided to map Sean's journey throughout a typical work day in a foreign country in order to gain a better understanding of what scenarios cause issues. Pictured below is a journey map that takes into account his emotions when dealing with difficult situations.

  • The steps of the journey were chosen by referencing our survey data and seeing where most individuals experienced tough situations 
  • Sean starts out feeling positive, however his mood plummets as he faces language barriers when interacting with others who do not speak the same language

Taking the time to map Sean's journey helped us focus on a particular goal for this project: ensuring that conversations progress smoothly, without any hiccups or misunderstandings.

AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App
AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App

Wireframes

To prepare for making digital wireframes, I sketched some ideas in my notebook, asked for feedback, and relayed the suggestions to my team for our digital wireframes. Using Adobe XD, my team and I created low-fidelity wireframes of each screen. This helped us experiment with different ideas and test out our designs quickly. The next step was to test these wireframes to gather more feedback on our work.

Usability Testing

My team and I conducted usability tests using our digital wireframes in hopes to sort out any inconsistencies between the pages. Although the testers were not our target group (they were fellow students as this was a school assignment), we still gained valuable insights on the usability and functionality of the app. Here were some of the observations we recorded:

  • It took more than a few taps for our testers to figure out how to get to the audio translation page. The buttons on the homepage are hidden behind the plus symbol, and so users found it redundant to repeatedly tap two or three times before being able to start translating
  • Testers could not go back because there were no back/cancel symbols
  • They were frustrated that they could not re-record a conversation without having togo all the way back to the homescreen again
  • Some were confused on how to switch translation methods since some buttons "look like the retweet symbol"

Final Solution

AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App

App Improvements

In this stage, we refined our designs and improved on the feedback that we received from testing:

  • We displayed the three translation methods directly on the home page so that users don't have to waste any time with excessive tapping
  • Back/cancel buttons were added
  • After completing an audio recording, we added a confirmation pop-up. This will allow users to re-record without having to go all the way back to the homepage
  • All three translation methods have been locked to the bottom of the screen so that users can switch to any method with more ease

AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App
AllSpeak: A Pocket Translator App

Colour Choice

We chose blue as one of the main colours in our palette because it is associated with positivity, trust, and loyalty. These are the values we want to convey to our users since we want to portray AllSpeak as a platform that anyone can use with confidence. Dark Gray was favoured over pure black for text as it is easier on the eyes. We used light gray for accent text since it is neutral and does not overpower the other elements of the app. Lastly, we used lots of white space to give our design a cleaner, simpler look.

Takeaways

This project introduced me to many concepts that I had not considered before, namely on the user-research end. Before beginning this project, I specifically remember feeling stumped as to how we were supposed to design an application for a user group we knew nothing about. However, the process of conducting user interviews taught me just how much of a difference it makes when you take the time to truly understand your users’ feedback. From creating a controlled testing environment, recording video and audio for every tester, taking notes, and then implementing the feedback into our final prototype, every aspect helped tremendously in creating a final prototype that our target users could enjoy.

Another important lesson I’ve learned is that often times, the first idea you come up with is almost never the idea you will stick with to the end. At the beginning, we had many ideas on the functionality of the app, the layout, what colours and fonts we wanted to use etc. However, after conducting user interviews, we discovered that there were some aspects that made no sense and served no purpose to our target audience. In the end, this realization helped us focus more on what our target audience wanted, what they were expecting, and helped us craft an experience better suited to their needs.