Google Translate

Adding a multi-device chat room feature benefits all users across different devices.

UX UI Design
Usability Testing
Nov 2023
(2.5 Weeks)

Following my recent trip to Japan, where I visited a palmistry store, I encountered a language barrier with the Japanese palmists. Despite using Google Translate, communicating was difficult. This wasn't just my experience; my free diving coach also faced similar issues with translation inaccuracies.

Reflecting on these experiences, I decided to research ways to improve Google Translate's user experience. My aim is to develop a feature that addresses these accuracy challenges during conversations, ensuring more precise communication for users.

Testing on Google Lens

Problem: Lost in translation
Unlike human translators, Google Translate can be inaccurate, especially with idioms and subtle nuances. It struggles to capture hidden colloquialisms and convey emotions or intent accurately. Double-checking is often necessary to avoid saying something weird. I released a survey with active users of Google Translate and this is what they said: 

Insights:What I discovered from research data and first hand users stories
60% of interview users expressed a preference for the Google Lens feature. While dining abroad, they frequently use it to translate menus. However, they are not entirely confident in its translations and sometimes find it challenging to read.

Users are seeking fast and quick solutions.

Users typically don't actively explore apps to discover newly launched features. If the new feature is located within an area the user frequently accesses, there's a higher likelihood that they'll notice the changes.

User empathy
From the research data, I've created two personas, which are the two archetypes outlined below in our persona hypothesis.

Observing existing solutions
Before I start brainstorming ideas, I took a look at the communication features currently available on Google Translate. There is an existing Google Translate feature called “Conversation” that is limited to only one device, offers no history access, and does not take into account the context of the conversation, which lead to inaccuracies of translations.

Based on this observation, I can comprehend the current user experience and pain points, and determine how we can elevate from there to deliver a better user experience.

How might we share translations with several users to help more people and ensure a clear and contextually accurate translation?

Feature exploration:
I generate potential features by addressing user pain points and improving their experience. These ideas are then evaluated using MoSCoW analysis, categorized as Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Will Not Have. We then decide on selecting the more complex feature that involves more collaboration, which is a collaborative transaction for multiple devices.

Lo fi wireframe: Initial idea
Supposing that a user clicks on the translation history to view the collaborative translation lists, they can also edit the translation language to their preference.

Refine the user experience
After early testing, I found that certain functions weren't as expected, and users' mental models differed from my assumptions. They didn't naturally check the translation history to review others' translations, prompting further iterations and more tests to determine what people really need.

Here's what we ended up with: a chat room where people can talk in real-time, showing translations in everyone's language and working on different devices.

Multiple ways to join the chat
Users can use QR code, chatroom passcode, and email invitation to join the chat room.

French User Joins with QR code

Spanish User Joins with Email

A/B testing on how translation display
Users have different opinions on whether the conversation translation should display the original texts or not. 50% of test users expect to see the original texts for learning purposes, while the other 50% don't think having the original texts is necessary for effective communication.

To further enhance the user experience,
we did the hi fi usability testing.

What users feel about the new feature....

Usability testing
  1. 82% of test users would recommend this new feature to others.
  2. 60% of test users expect to use QR code sharing with the "Add User" icon.
  3. 40% of users anticipate combining A and B versions, with the option to switch between displaying the original translation or clicking to view the translation.
  4. 40% of test users are unclear about the distinction between the new chat room feature and the existing conversation feature.
  5. 60% of test users find the redirection from the chat room to the homepage, involving multiple clicks and steps, inconvenient.

To solve the above issues, we decided to iterate to deliver a more satisfying user experience.

How to satisfy everyone?
The solution is to provide users with options to switch on and off based on their preference. Users can switch between A/B translation modes (A: only show translation, B: show original text and translation) with just one simple click.

Self explanatory:Make it effortless for users to understand the chat room feature
Introduce a new screen that explains the difference between the conversation and chat room features upfront, ensuring users understand the distinctions. Additionally, position the new feature in a commonly accessed area within the app to make it easier for users to notice and become accustomed to using it.

The entire experience of entering the chat room feature from the start.

To be continued

If given the opportunity to extend the project, I would enhance it by incorporating additional data and gaining a deeper understanding of users' experiences and feedback on the existing product. Additionally, I would establish a system to track the performance of the new chat room feature.

Key takeaway
Early testing with a lo-fi wireframe to validate the idea is a crucial lesson for this project. Testing early and iterating promptly in an agile manner is important before rolling out the hi-fi design. Additionally, adding a new feature to the product has honed my ability to think creatively within constraints, adhere to existing brand guidelines, and work efficiently, such as utilizing Google design pattern insights.

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Chofi Chan


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