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Medicabulary App

A mobile app for students to learn medical vocabulary in a fun and engaging way.


UX/ UI Designer


August 2020 –September 2020

Tools Used


  • Pen & Paper

  • Marvel

  • PowerPoint

  • Zoom


The Problem

How can busy medical students learn and retain new medical terms quickly in an engaging way?

With medical students having increasingly busy schedules and vast amounts of new terminology to ingest, it can be difficult to keep track of, quickly learn, and retain new medical vocabulary in an efficient and engaging way. Some vocabulary learning apps require a lot of time or do not allow users to input their own vocabulary.


The Goal

Create a medical vocabulary learning app that helps students of all different learning types (visual, kinetic, oral) learn and retain new vocabulary.

The Process


User Interviews

The process first started with a competitive analysis, before conducting user interviews.

Using these methods helped develop a comprehensive understanding of what users needed, what the market had to offer and assisted in identifying Medicabulary’s goals and features. Three potential users were interviewed, who were either actively learning new vocabulary or who’ve learned terms in the past. The interviews were held and recorded using Zoom.

The goals of the user interviews were to determine:

1. Users' daily routine to see availability of when they could devote to learning.

2. What type of methods users' learn best from.

3. What keeps users motivated to stay learning.

4. Their experience with existing vocabulary learning apps (likes and dislikes).


Key Insights


Wide range of learning methods (visual, kinetic, oral).


Will lose interest if learning method not fun or engaging.


Motivation to learn comes from self-interest and wanting to move forward confidently in field.


Busy schedules and can devote between
5 to 20 minutes at a time.


User Persona

A user persona was generated based on the data analyzed from the research to help drive design decisions.

Meet Tyler Brekker, a motivated medical student studying to become a general practitioner. He encompasses who our target audience is. His persona aided in creating user stories, user flows and helped drive design decisions moving forward.


User Flows

Next steps were to determine the information architecture for Medicabulary.

Using Tyler’s user stories, the 2 main features of the app were determined, listed below. Then, task analyses and user flows were created to streamline the navigation.

  1. To add a personal word set, and

  2. To learn and test from a personal word set. 

Feature 1

User Flow-Task1-v2.jpg

Feature 2

User Flow-Task2-v1.jpg

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Hand-drawn wireframes were used because of it’s speed and advantage to ideate many possibilities quickly.

In total 23 screens were drawn to cover the 2 main features and to prepare a working prototype for testing. Below are key wireframes for the 2 main features.


1. Creating a Personal Word Set

You can quickly add a personal word set from the home page and add new words by typing, dictating and/or adding an image. Once 3 or more words are created, you can then save the word set.

Flow1-Creating Set_300x.png

2. Test from Personal Word Set

On the home screen, select the word set to test from, adjust the test settings to your liking, and then proceed through the test with up to 4 different engaging testing games. You’ll be given a test result; letting you know how well you did.

Flow2-Test Results_300x.png

Usability Testing

To ensure that the early designs had a strong foundation, participants were recruited to test early prototypes.

The paper wireframes were moved into the Marvel software to create clickable prototypes. After creating a usability test plan and script, numerous potential users were asked to provide their honest opinions and feedback on the functionality and navigation.


The usability test goals were:

  1. Create a personal set of words.

  2. Test from a personal word set.

  3. Listen to the pronunciation of a word from a personal word set.

  4. Add a preset word category into “My Sets”.

Observations & Improvements

After prioritizing the usability issues using Jakob Nielsens’ Error Severity Rating metric, there were several critical usability issues discovered.

Solutions were brainstormed and implemented to resolve these issues. Below are some before and after examples of 2 high severity usability issues and the improvements.

Issue #1

Users had a hard time understanding which game they were playing during the test.


A game indicator was added to each of the testing game screens, so the users can easily distinguish the game and what actions they needed to take.





Issue #2

Existing users were not able to add a new set of words.


Added an overlay when the "Add" menu button is clicked. Overlay options include "Add New Set" and "Add Category to My Sets".





Revised Prototype

Key Learnings & Next Steps

Getting to the “why” during user interviews

Since every participants provides different levels of information when they talk, learned to always ask more follow-up questions in order to dig deeper and determine the “why” from the user.

Value of Early Usability Testing

Learned the importance of usability testing, to test early on and as much as possible. There were certain functionality issues that were discovered by testers which were critical to usability and it was efficient to learn about them early on in order to save time and extra work down the line.

Future Next Steps

As the 2 core features were the primary focus for this phase of the project, the next steps of Medicabulary will be to:

  1. Wireframe remaining features

  2. Additional usability testing for remaining functionality.

  3. Create a higher-fidelity prototype to give test users a more realistic environment.

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