Learning with Google Translate


Design for value-added product experience for users around the world

Project Type

Summer internship as a UX designer with Google Translate

Role

I designed and prepared to launch a new feature on Translate Android app a cross-functional product team, consisting of engineers, PMs and researchers

Duration

Summer 2018 (14 weeks)

Skills

Rapid prototyping, redlining, storytelling, cross-functional collaboration, design project management


Introduction

Being a UX designer in industry

Language learning has been one of the primary purposes of people using Google Translate. This summer, I worked as a UX design intern on Google Translate team to launch a new feature on Translate Android app for an enhanced language learning experience that adds value to the current Translate ecosystem.

*** This project is subject a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) ***

Process

Iterate for product, design and development

In 10 weeks, I collaborated with developers, PMs, UX researchers, and my mentors, Liu and Pendar, to research, design, prototype, test and eventually prepare to launch a new feature on Google Translate app.

Get started

Embrace ambiguity and design of global users

Google Translate is available to users all over the world. They are from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, have varied digital literacy and use Translate for different purposes. As a large part of current users are using Google Translate as a mean of learning languages, how might we design a learning experience that is easy and useful for users with such a great variation is one of the biggest challenge I encountered at the beginning of my internship.

Understand past attempts, competitor landscape and PEOPLE

Before diving into work, I started my internship by setting up 1:1s (i.e. grabbing coffee/juice together) with people on our team to get an understanding about what have been tried before, what went well or not, what were the resources I could refer to and who I could go to for different types of questions. This helped me to understand the team’s style and build the relationship and mutual understanding for the coming months.

Competitive analysis and desk time

Then was the desk time, when I dived into past research work about learning and languages and analyzed direct, indirect and parallel competitors by looking into app design, user feedback and content provision to synthesize what were the critical needs and most-demanded features of language learners.

Design and prototype

Bring design into real product

I designed and started worked with engineers to prototype the basic functionality early during the internship considering the timespan of the project. This stage, where a lot of back and forth happened, spanned across the entire project. I discussed overall product vision with PMs and designers, prototyped and tweaked UI treatments with developers and bug bashed mid-way prototypes with the team. While the it is has nothing close to a linear process, I would like to conclude the process into the following key aspects.

Design is teamwork

I communicated design effectively with sketches, redlines, animated prototypes and trade-offs analysis

Design is iterative

I consulted the team for feedback of different perspectives, and managed feedback to further iterate on my design at multiple levels from feature priority to detailed UI treatments.

Design is to advocate for users

Making tradeoffs was sometimes necessary considering the project timeline, engineer bandwidth and platform consistency. I created a user journey map to guide my design on track to meet users’ need and communicate with others from the UX perspective.

Evaluate and iterate

Keep on iterating with user feedback for product excellence

Having a functioning prototype, I planned and carried out a guerrilla study to understand how users think about the new feature we are bringing to the table for language learners of Google Translate. The study helped us to prioritize multiple design ideas, identify usability issues, define critical user journeys of the feature and build the empathy of the team about the people we are designing for.

Internship Takeaways

A learning experience for users and me as a designer

Cross-functional collaboration
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently with cross-functional roles such as engineers, PMs, researchers and writers
  • Advocate for users’ needs and convey design rationale with solid foundation
Design for product development
  • Trades-offs and technical concerns during product development, such as accessibility, internationalization and edge cases
  • Design for an existing product, understand how design fits into the ecosystem, and define user needs and journey with ambiguity
Form opinions from multiple perspectives
  • 1:1s with people of different functional roles/teams allowed me to understand how designers work differently in different contexts, and how I could further iterate on myself as a UX professional