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Duolingo Gets Actionable Insights on New Literacy Learning App with dscout

See how the company launched a generative research campaign that increased participant engagement and paved the way for future studies.

Words by Kris Hoppe, Visuals by Jarred Kolar

Duolingo is widely known for its language learning application, which has over 500 million registered users and over 13 million daily users. The company’s UX research team of 10 researchers is focused on building a deep understanding of its global learners' behaviors, needs, attitudes, and motivations.

Duolingo ABC is Duolingo's new literacy learning app designed to help kids, ages three to eight, to learn and love to read. In the app, kid learners go through a level of lessons based on systematic phonics instruction.

Senior UX Researcher Kylie Sobel and Senior UXR Program Manager Lowell Reade partnered with dscout to create an impactful program that had unexpected results.

The Problem

Normally, it's easy for Duolingo to query their own database and directly invite research participants. However, with a brand-new literacy app targeted toward children and their caregivers, the UXR team needed more creative ways of reaching out to learners for research.

Duolingo needed:

  • To conduct generative research – That included understanding learners, their families, contexts, needs, wants, and abilities—all of which impact the design of the product.
  • Playtesting opportunities – This allowed the team to understand the usability, enjoyability, and learning potential of the product at different stages of the design and development process.
  • To recruit a diverse sample size – The ability to research kids and caregivers or parents across age, location, race, ethnicity, income, family structure, ability, screen time rules, personalities, interests, and many other qualities.
  • An easy-to-use platform – Software to manage feedback from participants quickly and communicate consistently.

The Solution

dscout met all the requirements the company was looking for. With dscout, Duolingo was able to…

  • Conduct international research with diverse families - Recruited scouts across the US, Canada, UK, and Australia and easily onboarded them to the platform.
  • Engage in a year-long mission through Live, Diary, and Express - The flexible tools worked well for a variety of research questions and study methodologies over a prolonged period of time.
  • Adapt dscout's Diary format for specific insights - Helped their cross-functional product team get a meaningful understanding of the target audience and provided deeper insight into the kids’ unique abilities and personalities for future missions.

The Result

This study came with several compelling results, including:

  • Easy collection and organization of mixed data using the diary mission format
    • Video recordings
    • Open-ended written questions
    • Multiple-choice questions
  • Increased engagement and a better understanding of research participants
    • Connecting stakeholders to research participants throughout the entire product cycle
    • A better understanding of how children's needs and motivations for learning evolve and change
    • Empowering kids and their caregivers by showing them that they were making a difference
  • Leveraging dscout for further missions
    • Learning more ways to use dscout in the research program on a recurring basis
    • Working with the rest of the Duolingo UX research team to use dscout for micro missions and gathering data in the span of one day
  • Bringing a unique voice to the app’s content
    • Helped Duolingo find their own creative voice across original stories
    • Tested with high engagement for seven- to eight-year-olds

Have questions about using dscout for research? Let's talk!

Kris is a content creator and editor based in Chicago.

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