Lirica — Improving the language learning journey through music + gamified App

For our final project at General Assembly. I have the pleasure to work on this project with three other classmates, Anneliese, Ismail and Piere. It is our first client project, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work closely with the Lirica team for two and a half weeks.

Knowing our client


Lirica is an award-winning Spanish learning app that was launched in July 2018. Since they have started, Lirica has accumulated almost 4,000 users on both Andriod and iOS Through music video and games design by the expert linguists; users can learn Spanish with their favourite Spanish music.

Our first client meeting

We met up with the Lirica team for the first time to discuss the details of the brief. From the initial brief, we are looking to deliver the following:

  • Improve the homepage information architecture
  • improve the current onboarding process

Introducing the “double diamond” to our client

Design Council’s double diamond and our design process.

We have explained to our client the design procedure for the next few weeks. In most cases, clients are not sure what the UX design process is going to be. Therefore, we should make sure the client knows what they will go through to help with the communication between us as the design team and also our client.

Competitor / Market analysis


When we started our competitor analysis, we quickly learn that there are more than 20 language learning apps out there. After looking into the structure and approach of all these other apps. We have cut down to 4 apps which are similar to our app.

From our research, we learn that:

  • Music-focused apps tended to lack detail or explanation about language — enjoyable to use but not that useful for learning.
  • Language-focused apps tended to be more educational but less entertaining and often overwhelming regarding content.

Quizzes from Lirica are designed in a gamified format, and we have discovered that gamification is a significant trend in language learning app. We have looked into the function of gamification.

Role of gamification.
  • Increasing user engagement
  • Improving conversion rates
  • Bringing elements of fun to websites and apps
  • A higher level of interaction
  • Satisfaction through challenges and a competitive spirit
  • Fostering motivation

These findings from had helped us to have a better insight into the product and also its market.

Initial user interview

We have written a screener survey which has questions design to identify our target users. From that survey, we have managed to have more than twelve participants that match our targeted group of users. Out of those twelve people, we manage to do eight qualitative interviews with a script which we have specifically written to learn about language learner’s needs and journey of our users. At the same time, we have also managed to do nine users to do a usability test on the existing app.


For language learning, we have learnt from our users that:

  • It is essential that for the users to track my learning progress.
  • Achievement is the vital essential encouragement that keeps our users learning.
  • Gamification keeps me interested, but real life application is even more rewarding.

For the usability test on the Lirica app. Our user’s feedbacks are generally positive, and they like the idea of the app. However, there are a few other problems that the users are encountering at the moment.


From our research, we have developed a persona to help us map our user journey.

Rachel is a mixture of language learning people and also existing Lirica users.

The existing users’ journey of Rachel is illustrated as the following :

Rachel has to go through many broken steps to navigate through different features of the app, and there is very little continuity for learning journey within the app.

We have summarised her pain point as the following:

  • No clear instructions.
  • User flow is confusing.
  • No progression tracking.

The Design Studio

At the design studio, we have presented our findings to our client, and we have all agreed that our design scope should be updated. We should now focus on improving the sense of achievement and accomplishment within the app, and to identify an in-app currency as a reward when users are moving from one level to another. So we have facilitated the design studio by ideating how can we improve the flow within the Spanish courses provided in the app.


From our paper prototype, we have done an A/B testing on the ways of navigation of which our users prefer.

From our test results, most of our users prefer navigating the app horizontally because it showed more evident progression moving from one section to another, and that becomes a starting point of our design.

We have also worked on a design of currency which promotes a sense of accomplishment within the app.

We have done a test on which design of the icon would relate most to the progression of the app and our users prefer the coin icon with the musical note in the middle.

Introducing Liricoin

The users will be able to earn Liri-coins when they have completed a section of the course.

The progression

In the lo-fi prototype, one of our research results has shown that our user prefers having the feature of “Beyond the lyrics” which is grammar lesson, before approaching the “Game”. It is because users would like to secure what they have learnt throughout the song before approaching the “Game” part of the app which is a mixture of grammar and vocabulary test presented in a gamified way.

Secondly, we have improved the design on the progress bar because of our user feedback find the icon confusing, and they respond better with labelling.


From our research findings, users had expressed that they are “slightly lost” while navigating the app. It is because of that, we have introduced a landing page between different stage of a lesson. By doing so, it offers better hand-holding during the process.

In our lo-fi prototype, users have mistaken the indication icon to a clickable button. For that, we have modified it in our hi-fi prototype and highlighted the section they are currently encountering. We have also included the “are you ready page” before the start of each section to give the users enough time to carry on the lesson.

Learning from mistake

The current version of the app allows users to keep making a mistake to progress through the lesson. However, users find themselves “auto-piloting” through the app and not aware of what they have gotten wrong. Therefore, we have included a more visible way to indicate a wrong message. At the end of the section, users are also given the score result and even the option to redo the section to earn more liricoin.

Hints and Guidance

We learnt from our research that our users feel that there is a lack of support when they encounter something they don’t know in the lesson. So we have brought the hint feature forward and tailor it according to the individual questions.

Encouragement to use your knowledge in the real-life situation

One of the more critical findings from our research is that language learner usually consider that learning progress and achievement by their ability to communicate with a native speaker.

We have included a page at the end of each lesson to suggest users implementation of what they have learnt.

Here is a demo of the prototype:

Addressing User Needs

Through our design, we aim to achieve the following;

  • More signposting and clearer visuals/language
  • A good indication of progress
  • Encourage hands-on experience
  • A clear scoring system to increase the sense of achievement

What’s next

  • Social Learning (friends, leaderboards, tandem learning)
  • Develop the level to the level structure of the game
  • Look into having a user profile page — for game stats, word bank etc.

Presenting to our client

We have shown our findings and design to the Lirica team, and they are pleased with our work. We did a second presentation to the rest of the Lirica team, and they would very much like to incorporate our suggestion for future references.

I have had fun working on this project. Thank you for reading till the end and feel free to leave me a comment or ask me any questions.