Exquisite is a vocabulary application for iOS that helps users to learn and study effectively whenever and wherever! It is an emergent, personalized, adaptive lexicon builder.

This is our app logo. We emphasize simplicity.

The app was designed by 7 team members at UCSD who collaboratively worked together based on the Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams:

  1. User Research
  2. Site Strategy
  3. Technology Strategy
  4. Content Strategy
  5. Abstract Design
  6. Technology Implementation
  7. Content Production
  8. Concrete Design
  9. Project Management

Our design process began with creating logos, conducting user research along with interviews and needfinding, generating personas and storyboards, and developing lo-fidelity prototypes. Based on our user feedback, we went further to apply Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics which influenced our design decisions. Finally, we created our hi-fidelity prototype.

User Research & Needfinding

As students who are constantly learning and studying, we sought to create an app that would help us do just that. More specifically, many of us agreed that when we come across a word that we don’t know the definition to, whether we are reading an online news article or a blog, we have to look it up on Google dictionary (that is, if we remember to).

When we conducted interviews, almost all of our potential users read digitalized books and all found Google to be the most convenient to use when they came across an unfamiliar word. The problem we then tried to solve was starting there. What if there was an app that was able to save the word by tapping on it, and then it would store the word directly into the app so the user could go back and study it again later? This would definitely promote effective learning through repetition and re-exposure.

For our next step, we ran a competitive analysis on existing applications and examined the key features/advantages as well as the limitations. By listing out the pros and cons of some other vocabulary apps, we were able to constructively combine our ideas and insights so that we could create an app that addressed our user needs.

Persona and Storyboard

So, we decided our target users would be students, namely high school, college, and post-graduate students. We all generated our own distinct personas with storyboards to match.

My Persona Jane
3 S’s of Storyboarding: Setting →Sequence →Satisfaction!

Initial Designs and Decisions

After creating our storyboards, we jumped right into making our lo-fidelity prototypes.Basic features such as a home-screen, search bar, and settings were included. Below demonstrates how the user would initially add a word to the list, then sort it into a category such as Biology or a another class.

One version of our initial prototype illustrates the use of the Search bar, Home screen layout, saving words into lists, and the use of flashcards within our Study feature.

So in the initial scenario, user sees an unfamiliar word while reading online. User taps the word and saves it into the Exquisite app. The next time the user opens the app, the word will appear under the list of Recently Added words. The definition will have been generated already for the user because our app’s search feature will be tied into the online Dictionary and Wikipedia. The benefit of this is that it is so easy to do! It will allow anyone to access it whenever they want and have these words already stored in there- for good!

We also utilized Balsamiq for our lo-fidelity prototyping.

This is the layout for the Settings Page
Our flashcard feature will show a word from the user’s list
If the user taps the flashcard, the definition will be shown

Those were our main design decisions within our first prototypes. We then conducted usability testing to get a better idea of what the users liked, the issues the users had, the features that they thought were missing, as well as any suggestions for improvement. The two main features that our users liked about our app were: the essential, simple, and sleek design of the app as well as the flashcards feature for studying purposes.

User Testing in Action

Final Prototype Key Features

  • Contextually Personalized List Generation- this would allow for an easy, fast, intuitive way to add words to lists
  • Flexible Flashcards- user can create custom definitions for each word, multiple definitions per word, and add drawings and photos as well to help study the most effectively!
  • Study Notifications and Reminders- users can adjust the frequency of notifications and this feature can be useful if there is an exam approaching as well as if the user just wants to expand their vocabulary

To produce our final prototype, we used Adobe Experience Design. Please view using this link: 2bMRhPnhttp://adobe.ly/

Here is a video demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhQ4r1TxBTY&feature=youtu.be


Being part of this project was a great learning experience in regards to UX design! It taught me about the creative design process from start to finish in which you begin by generating a simple idea that you want to find the solution to. I thought that user research was very important and gave us insight on things we may have missed as the developers. The design heuristics were also very important in that they gave some guidelines on what is good, functional design- what works and what doesn’t. With that, we were able to assess our own design to make it even better the next time. It was definitely challenging too, especially towards the end of the design process. We wanted our app to be fast, flexible and effective. But during this process, we found that having certain features would be detrimental toward one of the pillars so there was definitely a considerable amount of decision-making involved. The sequence of all the steps that were taken were definitely important to our final design’s success in addition to the collaborative efforts of our team.

Team Exquisite!
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