The UX Design Case Study That Got Me Hired | by Christina Sa | Mar, 2023

Getting a job in UX design is tough, but one particular case study helped me stand out from the crowd. I designed a non-traditional learning app that teaches the Korean language using Korean media such as K-pop, K-drama, and K-webtoon with an emphasis on building a habit.

Have you tried learning a language through a mobile app? How successful were you? Have you heard that language learning apps are only a supplement to classes? Or… that language apps aren’t helpful for speaking skills? In 2020, Michigan State University conducted a study using Babbel, a popular subscription-based language learning app and e-learning platform, to answer the question, “How effective are language learning apps?” (1).

A test was taken by 54 students at MSU before and after 12 weeks of studying Spanish through Babbel. Surprisingly, the level of oral proficiency, grammar, and vocabulary correlated with how long students used the app. The more time spent on the app, the higher the scores. One downside to this study was that 36% of participants quit halfway. It became clear that what’s important is that users need to be persistent and must put in the time to make progress.

I designed an app to solve problems users experience while learning a new language. This is the design process I followed for this project.

Design Process & Deliverables

First things first, I conducted a competitive and feature analysis of the Korean learning platforms in the market. Then, I surveyed and interviewed language learners to gain insight into their motivation and pain points. Here is my research plan.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis of direct and indirect competition

I looked at both direct and indirect competitors of Korean teaching platforms. Many apps are geared towards beginners and are being used to supplement the user’s study. HelloTalk is great for practicing, Memrise for vocabulary, and Teuida for dialogues.

Feature Analysis

Feature analysis of direct competitors

Next, I identified features from the apps and found that HelloTalk provides partner learning, Eggbun has AI chat features, and Memrise has AR object translations. I thought these were all fun and interactive ways to learn Korean.

User Survey & Analysis

I decided to perform the user survey to gain quantitative data on how users learn a new language and the struggles many share. 11 users participate in my user survey. They were learning a variety of different languages, from Korean to Spanish, Japanese, French, and Arabic. Here is the link to the survey.

User survey statistics for age bracket, primary language, and time spent learning
  • The majority of the participants chose English as their primary language
  • Spent either less than a year OR more than 6 years studying their secondary language.
Survey analysis of users interest and way of studyinng
  • The biggest motivation for users is their interest in the culture and language.
  • Mobile apps and consuming media were the most popular ways to learn a second language.

From the survey results, I found out that:

  • 63.6% of users spend less than an hour studying a week, and 36.4% spend 1–3 hours studying per week. No one spent more than 3 hours.
  • When asked how difficult it was to maintain a daily practice of learning on a scale of 1 to 10, everyone chose 5 or above. 9 was the most popular with 6 votes.
  • Users say that language learning is difficult because life gets in the way, hard to follow a routine, there is a lack of motivation, and no access to fluent speakers.

User Interview & Analysis

Next, I conducted 3 user interviews, and though I wish I had more participants, I still gained a lot of insights into the language learning experience.

User Interview Analysis for three participants

Users now want to move away from the traditional way of studying a language from a book and choose a more immersive way to learn. This adds to the survey findings that many people opt for mobile apps as they are learning a new language.

In the second step of the design process, I will be creating a persona, an empathy map, a customer journey map, and finally coming up with a problem statement.


Creating personas is a way to imagine who I would be designing for. I listed the goals & needs, motivation, and fear & frustrations.

Meet Ashley. She lives in San Francisco, CA, and loves everything about Korean culture and language.

Persona for Ashley. She lives in San Francisco, CA and loves everything about Korean culture and language.

Empathy Map

What does a typical day look like for Ashley? What does she value and think about? How are her actions different — or the same as her thoughts?

Empathy Map for Ashley

Ashley wants to learn Korean to consume Korean media without subtitles and have casual conversations with her friends. Although she finds joy in learning and understanding, she is embarrassed when she’s wrong and feels insecure.

Customer Journey Map

If Ashley were to come across Enjoy Korean, what would that look like and how would it help fulfill her goals while removing her pains? A customer journey map is a visual storyline of how the customer engages with our product, service, or brand.

Customer Journey Map

In this journey, Ashley discovered her passion for Korean and found ways to study, but with no success. The image above shows that Ashley comes across Enjoy Korean, as it guides the way to meet her goal.

Problem Statement

After the research phase, I can deduce that the users need help keeping a routine and want to learn a language the non-traditional way.

How might we help people build structure and context of the Korean language while keeping them engaged?

How might we help people who struggle to learn Korean accomplish their goals?

How might we increase engagement and interaction with Korean learning on a daily basis?

In the most creative step of the design process, I came up with solutions and created an information architecture. Followed by that are sketches, mid-fidelity wireframes, usability testing, and a UI kit.


  1. Learn in Context — Engage in learning with your favorite Korean songs, comic book, and drama.
  2. Build a Routine — Form a habit and make language learning effortless
  3. AR Translation — Enhance the Korean learning experience by incorporating a way for users to engage directly with real objects.

Information Architecture

Information Architecture with Journey

There will be three journeys.

  1. Onboarding Experience. This flow focuses on building a routine and creating personalized lessons for users.
  2. Song Lesson. Of the three types of content available in EnjoyKorean, I chose the song to explore and design a lesson.
  3. AR Translation. This flow allows users to engage in real documents and allow them to come back to the app to study.

I organized all the pages according to each journey and listed items seen on each page. The square boxes represent call-to-action buttons.


Enjoy Korean sketches

Alongside the information architecture, I sketched my ideas on my iPad, keeping in mind the user’s pain points and motivations.

Mid Fidelity Wireframes

Enjoy Korean mid fidelity wireframes

From sketches to mid-fidelity screens, I started by laying out all the pages I needed to design for the three journeys. I blocked out sections for each element and did my detailed work.

Usability Testing

I conducted usability testing with 6 participants over Zoom, each lasting about 30 minutes.

The objective of the test:

  1. Observe if users can accomplish the specified task. If they made a mistake, can they recover?
  2. Identify areas of the app that requires a change to improve user performance and satisfaction

With the provided feedback, I created revisions to fill the gap between my understanding of the users and what the users experienced.

Before and After results from usability testing and mid fidelity level

UI Kit

What kind of feeling do I want users to experience while using Enjoy Korean? The color purple is associated with ambition and creativity and the color orange is associated with enjoyment and enthusiasm. These two are the primary colors used in Enjoy Korean. I used a sans serif font so it is more legible. Open sans also create a friendly and inviting environment.

UI Kit

Here is the preview of my final prototype of Enjoy Korean 🙂

Final Wireframes Preview

Click to preview Enjoy Korean

What’s Next?

I have a huge list of features to add to Enjoy Korean so I want to work on that!

  • Adding sounds to lessons. How can I use hearing as a form of learning to teach users more about Korean?
  • A skill test to identify user skill level due to the hardships of self.
  • Premium Version. Without a source of income, it is hard to imagine a service like this being supported
  • Creating a screen for the profile and word bank.
  • Example sentences. What if users can see more example sentences related to a specific grammar rule during a lesson?

I understood how important the design process was to UX but this case study taught me exactly how. I subconsciously thought of what the final design of Enjoy Korean would be like even before I started, however, after the research and defining phase, that completely changed. Through research and analysis, I learned aspects of the learning process I wouldn’t have known otherwise. For example, before research, I thought most people study through an academic textbook or with a tutor. Although many people opt for this method, mobile apps and media learning were the top two in my survey. Through this, I learned that my assumptions are wrong and that I shouldn’t come to a conclusion based on what I think.

This was the main case study I presented during my interview and it ultimately helped me to demonstrate my design process, problem-solving skills, and ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely. Thanks to this case study, I was able to showcase my strengths and secure my first job as a UX Designer.

[1] Shawn Loewen, Daniel R. Isbell, Zachary Sporn. The effectiveness of app based language instruction for developing receptive linguistic knowledge and oral communicative ability. Foreign Language Annals, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/flan.12454

Feel free to drop a message on LinkedIn or Email for any feedback and suggestions.

Here is the UX BootCamp I enrolled in during my career transition.

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