While I was working on the Translate Android Redesign, I also began work on an exploratory feature called ‘Conversation Mode.’ This feature would differentiate the mobile app from the website and add significant value.
The idea was to enable two people who spoke different languages to have a basic conversation. We imagined a tourist asking native speakers simple questions.
The fastest way to get feedback on the basic flow was to run a cognitive walkthrough with other UX designers. This shaped my early designs and simplified a lot of the interactions.
Rapid Iterative Testing
Once we had a working prototype, we testing the app in the lab. We brought in two bi-lingual participants and assigned them two different languages. They were tasked with asking for directions or recommendations.
After a full day of testing, I made changes to the UI to fix obvious issues. I then brought the updated designs back to the lab for another round of testing. Some adjustments were simple - such as adding a way for the speaker to add more before passing it off to the other person.
As we kept testing, there seemed to be recoverable errors (the translation was close, but not perfect). I introduced a delay to allow the user a chance to edit before it was spoken aloud. This alleviated most problems in certain languages.
We ended up launching as a Spanish/English only feature. The extensive user testing illustrated the risks of launching a full product too early.