Internship project (launched): startup (Beijing)
Time: Feb 2015 - Jun 2015
Team: Peter (PM), Sam (PM) Beatrice (UX), Lynn (curriculum), Yanling (curriculum)
My contribution: market research, user research, wireframe, low fidelity prototype, curriculum design, tutor interface
LinGoChat is a Chinese learning app that enables language learners to talk with a native tutor like they are talking with friends – at any time, for any length.
Net Marketing has already launched a product Tripper that provides live interpretation and travel assistance for foreign travellers in China and Japan. Now the company is preparing to move into the EdTech industry and make full use of its bilingual phone representatives. Specifically, it is planning to develop a Chinese language live tutoring product.
How can we bridge the bilingual tutors with language learners in an effective way?
We conducted competitive analysis on over 60 Chinese learning products, including 30+ websites and 20+ apps. We mainly analysed their business strategy including their curriculum, tutor selection, pricing model and revenue strategy.
- Online Chinese learning is a highly competitive market, and there is no single giant yet
- Most services provide rigid curriculum which requires reservation
- The websites are highly homogeneous – similar layout, content and slogan
We interviewed people who are learning Chinese about their preferences learning mode. We found that learners expect the learning experience to be flexible, convenient and relaxing. We also found that such learners tend to be those who have at least basic proficiency in Chinese. They are interested in Chinese culture, and hope to talk with people like they are living in China.
Through both face-to-face and remote interviews with several Chinese learners living in China, US, UK and Australia, we find that their desire to reach a native speaker is strongest when they accidentally come across some language questions in life, or when they need to prepare for something related to that language or culture. Therefore we created the storyboard:
Based on the above findings, we set our design goal — a product that enables learners to "call anywhere, anytime, for any length".
Design requirements are:
- 24/7 access to live Chinese tutors
- flexible call duration
- spontaneous call with no reservation
- built-in video and voice calling
- encourage short, frequent conversations
- free-talk based conversations
- friendly atmosphere
To ensure that the conversation goes efficiently, we want both users and tutors to know each other before kicking off the call. To maximize the learning outcome , leaners will receive notes of the conversation from tutor. They can also rate the tutors based on their teaching quality. Meanwhile, we want the process as simple as possible, resembling calling friends instead of registering for a course.
Therefore, the main final task flow is set as:
Main functions (navigation bar)
The navigation bar consists of the four main functions:
- Call: give tutor video/voice call
- Message: send questions or pictures both in and out of a call
- History: conversation records and notes
- Me: personal information, payment and system setting
For a learning product, high quality learning materials is always a priority. For a free conversation-based chatting platform, achieving both standardization and flexibility is the key. Therefore, we designed a conversation protocol introducing each step in the whole process. Also we prepared a teaching resource site which collects a wide variety of teaching resources for tutors to refer to.
Tutor desktop system
Based on the company's previous phone representative desktop system, we designed a prototype for tutor's system. It includes tutors' information, conversation interface, conversation history, learning materials about each topic.
I compared the pricing model of existing products, and our team discussed about the cost, revenue, initial stage bonus (marketing), and finally drafted both short-term and long-term plans.
Order of tutors
The order of which tutors is decided by a number of factors including tutor's availability, users' conversation history, and tutors' rating, topic matches.
LinGoChat was launched in Google Play in Oct 2015. It attracted 500 users in Australia and New Zealand in the 1st week, and it is proceeding to other English-speaking countries.
Check out LinGoChat's introductory video here:
After several major pivots in both business strategy and product design, LinGoChat now became a course-based platform, TutorMandarin.
You will be directed to TutorMandarin of you search for LinGoChat's original website www.lingo.chat
This internship my first step into the UX world. Working in a startup environment pushed me to arrive at design conclusions from multiple perspectives — business, education, different cultures, different user groups... I feel lucky about this opportunity to design something from scratch and witnessed its release.