© David Hyun Ishii UX/UI Designer

Japanese Learning Application

Problem Statement

Learning a new language is difficult, especially when there are 3 different writing systems. Tokyo Ride was created to ease the learning process in a fun and simple way.

Role: Designer and Illustrator

Timeline​: August 2018 - October 2018 



Skills & Tools Used:

- Competitor Analysis

- User Research

- User Interviews

- User Personas

- Information Architecture

- Site Mapping 

- Wireframing

- Usability Testing

- Style Guide Design

- Sketch

- Invision

- Principle

- Photoshop

- Illustrator

- Xd

- Unity

Competitive Analysis

Looking at the most popular Kanji studying apps, according to Reddit, I performed an in-depth analysis to see what they offer and what they’re lacking.

Looking at the most popular Kanji studying apps, according to Reddit, I performed an in-depth analysis to see what they offer and what they’re lacking.


iKnow gives in depth detail about the vocabulary and use real world examples. There are many different options to choose from when picking how much and how long you want to study. 

User Experience

Although the content in this app is excellent, it is quite difficult to use. There are too many options to choose from so the user will get confused about what to do. There was no tutorial to help me, so everything was trial and error.


Besides getting rid of the time restrictions. There should be an option to choose between the different Japanese alphabets, since it is necessary when learning vocabulary.


Wanikani focuses on learning vocabulary and Kanji, which is probably the most important for learning the Japanese language, besides grammar. This app also uses mnemonics, which I found very helpful when trying to memorize the vocabulary.

User Experiences

Since this app only focuses on learning vocabulary and Kanji, it’s straight forward and easy to use. There are no extra buttons or options to get confused. You can also only study a certain amount at a time, which the app says is proven to help retain what you studied, but true or not I think it works well.


The only change I would make is the bright colors on screen can be straining on your eyes so that might get irritating after a while.


Memrise is most likely aimed for beginners of the Japanese language. The content is very easy to understand with little to no Japanese experience. You can also pick the level appropriate to your skillset.

User Experience

It is very easy to use and understand this app, everything is explained well in the tutorial and I had no trouble using it at all. Although you can choose your level, even at the intermediate / advanced level.


I think the contents should definitely be more challenging. Also there needs to be a Kanji feature. The lessons had no Kanji which is crucial to studying Japanese vocabulary.

User Research

I conducted interviews with people who are studying Japanese to get a better understanding of what they want in an app.

Ricardo F.

Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Current location: Yokohama, Japan

Occupation: IT Specialist


“I get discouraged when I spend a lot of time studying but still don’t understand what is being said.”

Alex C.

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

Current location: Tokyo, Japan

Occupation: English Teacher


 “I only study out of necessity.”

Keshi R.

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

Current location: Yokohama, Japan

Occupation: Apparal employee


“I only use apps to study when I have time, which is not very often.”

User Persona

Using the information gathered from the user research, I created a User Persona. To maintain a user centered design, my persona embodies the target audiences behaviors, needs, and struggles.

User Flow

A visual map of the path a user might take to complete a task in the app.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Sketches of my first iteration of wireframes for my app.

Usability Testing

Usability tests were conducted with three participants between the ages of 20-27. The sessions were conducted in person and took about 20 minutes.


The purpose of this test is to discover the usability of Tokyo Ride. I am able to observe participants and see what they find easy and what they find difficult. By conducting these tests, I am able to make any improvements if necessary.


1. Go the home screen. 

2. Browse the Japanese characters. 

3. Play a game with number Kanji.

4. Check your scores.

5  Find information on landmarks in Tokyo.

Test Results

Overall, users were able to get through most of the tasks with minor difficulties. Because this was an incomplete prototype, many participants were confused when buttons wouldn’t take them anywhere. But, I was able to record these observations and determine what needed to be changed.


Based on my test results, I updated my wireframes and retested them to see if usability improved. Satisfied with my results, I added more details and created high-fidelity wireframes


As a user of language learning applications, I had an interesting experience with this project. I learned a lot about what I prefer in an app and how it's difficult to please everyone. Along with creating solutions to benefit most users instead of yourself. 

We are constantly updating Tokyo Ride by adding more features, as well as improving on the overall User Experience.