Babbel’s New Look: Here’s Why We Changed The Look And Feel Of Our App

Here at Babbel, we’re always looking for new ways to improve learning for our users. Our Principal Product Designer explains why we updated the look and navigation of our app.
Babbel's product design team gathered for a photo

Babbel’s Product Design team with Principal Product Designer Natalia Volgina featured center.

From Babbel Magazine editors:

Babbel just rolled out a fresh new design on the web and on mobile devices. Users are able to clearly see their learning path, easily switch between their core courses and special topics, and visualize their learning progress. Overall, the new design enables Babbel users to select lessons that are the right fit for them based on their level, their interests, and their goals.

Principal Product Designer Natalia Volgina spearheaded the project and explains what learners can expect, how her team came up with the new design, and how product designers shape the user experience. If you haven’t checked out the new course overview design, take a look now.

A water kettle and a language learning app don’t seem to have much in common on the surface. But for product designers like me, we look at these two very different objects in the same way. Fundamentally, most of the things in our lives were designed by someone who thought carefully about how the interaction between a person and the object could be as seamless and intuitive as possible.

As part of the product design team at Babbel, I work with a team of other designers, UX writers, language learning experts, and engineers to make the Babbel experience rewarding for our users. 

Going back to the water kettle example, at a basic level, product design aims to make everyday life easier by making the countless interactions we have — both with physical objects and digital products — intuitive so we don’t even have to think about how to use something. I find that challenge stimulating, especially when our goal is to make something quite challenging — learning a new language — fun, positive and effective for our users.

How Did We Update The Design?

Our first step was to understand our users’ needs. That meant collecting feedback from our Customer Service team, directly interviewing users, and conducting user tests so we could understand how best to improve the experience. What we uncovered is that learners wanted a clearer path — they told us that they wanted more direction about what to do next so they could level up their skills.

Users also said they wanted to do themed courses (a course about traveling, for example) but be able to easily jump back to where they left off in their core courses. Lastly, we discovered that visualizing progress was really important. Feeling a sense of accomplishment is a key part of staying motivated, so we knew we needed to give users a way to measure how much they’ve learned.

With a clear goal in mind, we got a bunch of Babbelonians (A.K.A. people who work at Babbel) together to create a roadmap. We sat down with instructional designers (experts who think about how educational content can be created and structured), engineers, and others to brainstorm solutions and talk about opportunities and constraints. As you can imagine, there was a lot of whiteboarding. After a lot of conversation, research and consideration, we created a prototype to test our assumptions and refine our concept.

So What’s New?

Choose your learning path

At the beginning of your journey, you can now more easily choose your path based on your motivation and prior knowledge while on our web app. Babbel will now suggest courses to you based on whether you want to pick up a new hobby, gain skills for your career, learn for friends and family, for travel, or if you simply want a mental workout. Your starting level can then be chosen directly by you or determined by a placement quiz!  

With a clear starting objective, you’re then given a recommended individual learning syllabus that fits both your skill level and goals. Learning German to move to Germany? A course on German dialects will help you fit in with the locals. Taking up a new hobby? Idioms are a fun way to wrap your head around the peculiarities of a new language. This personalization will help you better use our 60,000 lessons for your specific needs.

Visualize your progress

From there, you’ll notice you can clearly see how much progress you’ve made. You can see which lessons you’ve finished and what’s coming next. You’ll also see how many lessons you’ve completed in each course and see a progress circle which indicates how far you’ve gone. It’s a good way to stay motivated and remind yourself that you’re making progress!

Easily find what you want to learn

You can also easily shift between courses. If you want to switch to a different module — say you want to head over to the “Countries and Traditions” module to take a course specifically focused on the words and phrases you’ll need for your upcoming vacation — it takes just a couple taps or clicks (depending on which device you are using). The benefit is that you can find course content at your level based on your needs and goals.

What’s Next?

We’re always working on new improvements and features, so stay tuned!

Want to check out Babbel’s new design now? We’re in the process of rolling out the new design on mobile devices, so take a peek on your laptop or desktop:
Take a lesson now