Duolingo

Onboarding flow for 
Duolingo's user chat feature

Project Overview

Problem:

Duolingo users often reach a level of language proficiency where it’s helpful to practice with other people. But no such resource exists in the app.

Solution:

Important Note: I do not work for Duolingo and all views expressed are my own.

Cross-functional remote partners:

I worked with a UX Writer on implementing the Duolingo brand voice & tone across headings, microcopy, error messaging, and CTAS.

Impact:

Response to the initial prototype suggests excitement around this offering, which would ideally extend users’ lifetime on the app overall. 

My role:

  • User Research
  • UX Design
  • UI Design
  • Prototyping
  • Product Thinking

TOOls:

  • Figma
  • Illustrator

An in-app chat feature that helps connect advanced language learners to practice through conversation. 

Background

Duolingo is an American language-learning website and mobile app. With over 9M daily learners, there's a big opportunity to keep them on the app after they've completed the lessons, especially because they're already habituated to the experience.

User + Market Research

We interviewed over 20 Duolingo users who’ve made it through at least 8 of the 14 learning levels within the app. We intentionally left out Duolingo learners who were less advanced, as they aren’t the target audience without the skills to converse. 

Key findings:

33% Advanced Users

current level 
on duolingo

82% interested

Interest in
chat feature

18% Not Interested

67% Intermediate Users

Motivations for
using a chat feature

Real Life Practice

Idiomatic Phrases

Conversation Skills

New Connections

Pronunciation

24% Content with Native or Non-Native Speakers

desired partner
language level

72% not concerned about privacy

general
privacy concerns

28% Concerned about privacy

76% Prefer Native Speakers

group. 1:1. or both preference for chats

75% 1:1

18% both

7% Group
Only

User + Market Research

We interviewed over 20 Duolingo users who’ve made it through at least 8 of the 14 learning levels within the app. We intentionally left out Duolingo learners who were less advanced, as they aren’t the target audience without the skills to converse. 

key findings:

01.
Current level
on duolingo

33% Advanced Users

66% Intermediate Users

02.
interest in
chat feature

18% Not Interested

82% Interested

03.
motivations for using a chat feature

Idiomatic Phrases

Real Life Practice

New Connections

Real Life Practice

Pronunciation

04.
Desired partner language level

24% Are content with native or non-native speakers

76% desire Native Speakers

05.
general privacy
concerns

28% Concerned About Privacy

72% Not Concerned About Privacy

06.
Group, 1:1, or both chat preferences

7% Group Only

18% Both

75% 1:1 Only

In-app branding & interaction observations:

In sub-brands like Duolingo Plus, they lean on more muted versions of brand colors. While I kept the bright brand colors for this mock project, this is an important observation if the feature were to be built. 

image 01

When winning a level, lots of illustrations are used to celebrate.

image 02

The app uses different unlocked gifts as rewards for achievments.

image 03

Competition:

The competition has little to no educational common foundation that users must complete first. 

  • HelloTalk has a reputation for inappropriate messaging from users looking personal connections
  • No education
  • Primarily a Q&A app to receive quick takes from native speakers 
  • Doesn’t offer the ability for 1:1 conversational chats
  • Does not offer translation feature, better on user privacy with a ratings and a block feature
  • Tutoring is available.

Challenges:

I worked within the confines of a well documented and robust style guide to give this project a cohesive identity.

honoring existing brand styles:

exampleS pulled from duolingo's branding guidelines

While this project focused primarily on the on-boarding flow for joining the chat feature, we also considered if this feature should have its own privacy policy for user safety.

LEGALITY AND PRIVACY:

In the first version, we asked for full user information, but later simplified it because the user's profile could offer that information.

CONTENT CROSS-OVER FROM MAIN DUOLINGO PROFILE

The flow was intended for new users of the chat feature, but as the project progressed we saw a need for different screens for an advanced chat user. 

NEW VS. EXPERIENCED USERS

Flow Mapping

Low fidelity, Round one

In Round 01, I mapped out the content and graphic sections for the sign up flow to begin using the chat feature, imagining that this would begin when accomplishing a certain level on Duolingo.

Revising the Flow + Micro Copy 

Low fidelity, Round TWO

In Round 02, the UX writer added on-brand copy to the sections and we worked collaboratively to make an overall smoother flow. 

A key screen change from Lo Fidelity Round 01 to Round 02 was the Home Screen for Duo Connect. We elimated a separate Profile info section and overlayed this copy on top of the Profile picture to save space on the screen. 

Revising the Flow + Micro Copy 

Low fidelity, Round TWO

In Round 02, the UX writer added on-brand copy to the sections and we worked collaboratively to make an overall smoother flow. 

A key screen change from Lo Fidelity Round 01 to Round 02 was the Home Screen for Duo Connect. We elimated a separate Profile info section and overlayed this copy on top of the Profile picture to save space on the screen. 

Workshopping Designs

High fidelity, round one

As we moved towards high fidelity wireframes, we honed in on the nuances of guiding a user through their profile.

Selected design

TEST DESIGN

Finalizing Designs for Testing

high fidelity, round two

Once we had discussed all the nuances around navigation and decided on a flow, I finalized the designs.

User Testing

Key Findings: 

6 intermediate — advanced Duolingo users went through the prototype in 10-15 minute recorded live sessions where they moved through the prototype and then shared feedback afterwards. 
  • While initial research suggested folks were not highly concerned with privacy, 3 out of 6 users expressed hesitation around aspects of the profile, specifically the use of real photos for the profile picture and the user’s city. All 3 users identity as women and mentioned concerns about this feature being more akin to a dating app.
  • Overall, the flow made sense and all 6 users interviewed made successfully arrived to the DuoConnect Home Screen and all expressed excitement around the concept of the feature.

Concerns about profile picture

Flow completion + Excitement

Implementing Feedback

Based on the user feedback, we made changes to the information collected in the on-boarding flow and the profile information presented on the home screen. 

high fidelity, round tHREE

replacement of profile pictures with on-brand characters

Removal of question related to location

Implementing Feedback

Based on the user feedback, we made changes to the information collected in the on-boarding flow and the profile information presented on the home screen. 

high fidelity, round tHREE

removal of 
question related
to location

REPLACEMENT OF PROFILE PICTURES WITH ON-BRAND CHARACTERS

Looking to the Future

Data to Collect if the Feature Were Live:

  • Do users find the suggested partners useful at the top fold of the Home screen?
  • What percentage of users are finding successful partners through these suggestions? 
  • Is there any correlation between joining DuoConnect and continued or increased useage of regular Duolingo?
  • What percentage of sign-ups are satisfied with the feature? 

Design Changes for Advanced DuoConnect Users:

We made this flow for users who are experiencing the interface for the first time. I would like to experiment with changing the content design of the Home screen for advanced users to feature: 
  • Recent conversations at the top fold 
  • Less emphasis on suggested partners
  • Potentially a new section of group chats

ADVACNED USER REVISED HOME SCREEN

Reflections

01. The need for Collaboration

  • Working with a UX Writer on this project really shaped the final product to ensure Duolingo’s strong brand voice was present across all screens. 

02. Let Research be the guide

  • Going into this project I did have a pretty specific vision of the feature, a 1:1 chatting app that could allow users to chat digitally or in-person. Through user testing this part was challenged my initial idea and showed me how crucial it is to do testing repeatedly. 

03. Users matter in tandem with business goals

  • This feature was constructed based from research and feedback that a 1:1 chat offering within the Duolingo ecosystem would be useful to language learning. 
While this helps users on their educational journeys, it also offers a business opportunity for the product team to extend the app life cycle.

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