Asked

Roast my product: Panda HSK – iPhone app to learn Chinese

Tell me everything that's wrong with the app. Don't hold back.

https://itunes.apple.com/app/panda-hsk-learn-chinese/id1440976528?ls=1&mt=8

https://twitter.com/tomasz_fm
Maker of WIP amongst other things.

Context: I don't speak Chinese. I do happen to be in Taiwan right now and I'm interested in learning some basic sentences.

Heads up: I'll be blunt as this is a roast. Overall I think the app looks alright and seems to do the job. In my feedback below I'll only pick on things I think can be improved, so it's all negative feedback.

My feedback:

App Store listing

  • I don't know what HSK means.
  • The letter L in "learn Chinese" should be capitalised.
  • From that tagline it's not clear whether this is about reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking
  • It's not clear either to who this is targeted at. Completed novices like me? Or people that already know the basics?
  • Why is it better/different than Duolingo etc?
  • A tagline like "Learn to speak basic Chinese in 30 days" would grab my attention
  • The panda in the app icon looks kinda sad to me
  • The name isn't memorable and there are similar apps with similar names. Could be a problem.
  • The app has no reviews in my version of the App Store. If you had a homepage to link to instead of the App Store listing you'd have more control over the initial user experience which would allow you to include testimonials, etc.

The app itself

  • The typeface looks kinda childish to me
  • I don't know which level I need to select as a complete novice (I guess the app isn't meant for me)
  • The "Save" label on the button when choosing a level is rather uninspiring. Could be something more exciting like "Let's start learning…"
  • That said, the the select down menu doesn't make sense here anyway as there's only 3 options and you have plenty of real estate to work with. Why not show 3 buttons for each level, rather than a dropdown + save button?
  • It's not clear how easy it is to go back and try a different level. Maybe add something like "Don't worry. You can always change to a different level later'
  • On iPhone XS the notch cuts down into the top of the screen so "Panda HSK" isn't completely visible.
  • I immediately get greeted with an upsell (Subscribe now). Not a good first experience. Better to wait until I've received some value from the app
  • When starting to learn, I see some Chinese characters and a bunch of words to choose from. Having never learned Chinese, I have absolutely zero idea what the right answer is. So I'm guessing this not the right app for my level. Therefore I won't comment further on the learning functionality of the app.
  • The "Next" button becoming tappable once an answer is correct feels like a lazy UX solution. I think you could just hide the button at first. Then when the correct answer is chosen, prominently (big, centered, etc) show that button so it's more easy to move forwards.

That's all I have for now. I imagine someone who's actually in your target audience could provide more feedback on the learning experience.

https://twitter.com/tomasz_fm

Thanks for the feedback, below, I'm answering some of the questions:

I don't know what HSK means. - Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì, or Chinese Proficiency Test, it's an official test for Chinese learners. The app has all of the HSK vocabulary for a given level.

The letter L in "learn Chinese" should be capitalised. - cheers, I added it to the backlog and will fix in the next update

It's not clear either to who this is targeted at. Completed novices like me? Or people that already know the basics? - people who know what HSK stands for :p Eventually, I want to target it at general Chinese learners, but the app will need a lot of work before I get there.

Why is it better/different than Duolingo etc? - it's targeted specifically at people reviewing for the HSK exam, do you think I should make that more clear in the description?

The panda in the app icon looks kinda sad to me - Bummer, I drew it myself and that's the height of my artistic abilities :(

A tagline like "Learn to speak basic Chinese in 30 days" would grab my attention - that would be a lie, I've been learning for 6 years and only starting to get conversational now, it's a super hard language. I actually think it's impossible to learn using only an app, that's why this app is target more at people who are already studying with a teacher, as a revision tool, the rest is doomed. That said, I'm toying with "Learn HSK 1-3 vocabulary by practising just 5 minutes a day", what do you think?

The typeface looks kinda childish to me - valid point, I'm still trying to nail down the design, I don't have as much design experience as I would have liked

I don't know which level I need to select as a complete novice (I guess the app isn't meant for me) - I'll add a note saying 'if you don't know where to start, start at 1', good idea.

The "Save" label on the button when choosing a level is rather uninspiring. Could be something more exciting like "Let's start learning…" - good idea, will do that in the next update

That said, the the select down menu doesn't make sense here anyway as there's only 3 options and you have plenty of real estate to work with. Why not show 3 buttons for each level, rather than a dropdown + save button? - I'm quite fond of that dropdown, I think it's a rather clean solution

It's not clear how easy it is to go back and try a different level. Maybe add something like "Don't worry. You can always change to a different level later' - added to the backlog, will implement in the next update, switching between levels is painless.

On iPhone XS the notch cuts down into the top of the screen so "Panda HSK" isn't completely visible. - I'm not gonna lie, it's going to be a while before I fix that, focusing on other more pressing issues for now, but thanks for letting me know.

https://twitter.com/tomasz_fm

I immediately get greeted with an upsell (Subscribe now). Not a good first experience. Better to wait until I've received some value from the app - very good idea. I'll hide the upsell until the user has made progress in at least N words

❤️ Vera Sun • 🤖 gabrielchuan.com
  1. The colours are really bad. It didn't give me any study vibes. Generally for study apps, you want a clean and crisp interface. It helps users to focus on the important content.
  2. What does the progress bar actually mean? What determines progress?
  3. No sound for pin yin pronunciations. This is very important for learning new languages
  4. Use absolute numbers instead of percentages for results. e.g. 7/10 correct. Percentages are not very educational or helpful.
https://twitter.com/tomasz_fm

Thanks! Very useful noted there.

  1. You're right, I'm still looking for the right color scheme mood for the app. As Marc noted above, the font is kind of childish too. It's difficult to improve at the moment as I'm not a designer, but good to know that's an issue and will keep that in mind for future updates. The color scheme was originally more toned down, but it felt too clinical to me, I attached a screenshot below. What do you think?

  2. It's the average of progress bars of all the words. The progress bars for words represent number of correct answers over the last 5 times you saw the word. That way, when you answer each war correctly 5 times in a row, your progress bar is completely filled up. It's a bit difficult to explain, so I didn't do that in the app. Any ideas how this can be improved?

  3. Definitely worth doing. I'll need a good library of Chinese pronunciations, if anyone knows how I can get hold of these, do let me know! I know there's api.forvo.com/, I have it in my backlog to find out if I can store the downloaded recordings and serve them from within the app instead of calling their API each time.

  4. Great idea, I'll implement that in the next update

DqD9n43WoAcM3qY.jpg
remove

Context: I speak Chinese, I'm a high school student from the Philippines. We're a Chinese-Filipino international school. Our school treats the HSK test as a benchmark every year. For a batch of students to graduate, they'd have to pass a specific HSK level (e.g. I'm Batch 2019, I have to pass HSK 3 to graduate).

  1. I see this as an app our Chinese teachers would recommend, seems a design they'd go for. However, for us students, I'd use it but the orange color seems to drained? Perhaps making it a bit brighter, I think even a white background with a few elements around would / could suffice?

  2. A bit too text-based? Maybe you're going for simplicity? But if I were to use a language learning app, I'd want one that I'd be hooked into. Perhaps having a point / incentives system?

  3. I think the interface should be modified to look more like an iOS app. Perhaps with tabs or something, because based on the screenshots, it looks like an app like that would be better of on the web.

  4. The panda is a bit cute. Contrary to other comments, I think some students would like it, but better make it dynamic to be more attractive.

That's all for now, I'll take a deeper look soon and come back with more. Good luck in building and shipping your product!

https://twitter.com/tomasz_fm

Thanks for the feedback! Looks like you're right in my target group, do you mind if I get in touch with you for comments when I release the next version?

  1. A lot of other people also mentioned the colors, I'll see try to use a lighter, brighter background in the next release

  2. Based on the reviews, I've started to work on more varied exercises - there will be a listening component and a more interesting way to get tested on characters and pinyin

  3. It's built with both iOS and Android in mind (React Native), so that's more tricky than it looks. I'll get to this once I nail down the learning elements

  4. What kind of dynamic stuff do you have in mind? Animated?

Building privacy friendly products

Context: I'm on a n iPhone SE, no reason to learn Chinese, just roasting here! I didn't read the other roasts to be unique, so there could be double things here.

There we go:

  1. Font is super big. On my screen there is not so much space.
  2. On the main screen (practice, subscribe now, progress..) you communicate a lot. I'm not sure what is the most important thing I should do next.
  3. When clicking on practice i get a list of buttons. This list is scrollable, and while having that is does not feel native (not sure if you care or should care)
  4. If you click subscribe now the content again is scrollable on the screen. This seems not needed and cuts of the tiny text on the bottom. Seems like a design bug.
  5. It still says well don't after i clicked everything wrong and the last one is right.
  6. I would remove the red color a 1 second after you clicked it. I would also remove the try again text after 1 sec.
  7. The result screen is quite overwhelming (maybe because everything i did was incorrect. Also not sure where my attentions should go to.
  8. I don't like the fat black borders around the buttons and in the layout.

That's it!

https://twitter.com/tomasz_fm

Thanks!

On the main screen (practice, subscribe now, progress..) you communicate a lot. I'm not sure what is the most important thing I should do next - you're not the first one to mention it, I'll be working on making it cleaner in the next release

When clicking on practice i get a list of buttons. This list is scrollable, and while having that is does not feel native (not sure if you care or should care) - it has to do with your screen size, while I'll be working on adapting on making it look nice on all screen sizes eventually, at the moment I'm focusing on making everything look nice on more standard iphones

I would remove the red color a 1 second after you clicked it. I would also remove the try again text after 1 sec. - I like the idea, added to my to-do list

The result screen is quite overwhelming (maybe because everything i did was incorrect. Also not sure where my attentions should go to. - thanks for highlighting this, I might make it simpler, only highlighting the words you got wrong instead of a log of all your answers