Forming Good Learning Habits with Duolingo UX

Forming Good Learning Habits with Duolingo UX

The first time I learned about Duolingo was through a meme — the one where Duo (the owl mascot), would ‘threaten’ users with passive-aggressive notifications if they didn’t continue using the app.

The first time I learned about Duolingo was through a meme — the one where Duo (the owl mascot), would ‘threaten’ users with passive-aggressive notifications if they didn’t continue using the app.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but with this year’s turn of events, I decided to learn Japanese on my spare time. It’s been four months since I started, and I’ve observed some design choices that made the learning experience more enjoyable and friendly. I wanted to talk about these design choices and share my thoughts about them.


Using Gamification as a Motivator

Keep the Streak Alive

Streaks are a gamification mechanic that keep track of a user’s daily progress towards a completed action (finishing a lesson). They’re great for habit forming as they provide positive reinforcement for an action, giving the user a sense of achievement.

Duolingo makes it easy to start streaks, as users are able to set their own daily goals; 5 minutes; 10 minutes; 15 minutes per day, and so on. Five to ten minutes per day seems relatively easy compared to taking a weekly hour-long college class — I guess the takeaway from this is to_ break down the task and _make it easier, so that users are less inclined to give up when starting off.

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Streak screen after completing a lesson

One of the things I’ve noticed is that I tend to start passion projects with an excited mindset. I’d start planning out the details and writing down cool things I can do along the way — only to get discouraged when I run into a roadblock. Usually, this leads to throwing out the project because I don’t see instant results.

Maybe you can relate or experienced this before, but I just wanted to share some encouragement for those who may need it — to not give up on the things you may want to try or start. __Growth doesn’t always come quickly nor dramatically. __Focus on small improvements everyday and after awhile you’ll realize how much progress has been made. Streaks are a strong tool to help you visualize that progress and keep you on track.

Leaderboards, Statistics, and Achievements

These features weren’t too impactful towards my learning experience, but I felt that I should talk about them because they’re some of the main features highlighted by Duolingo.

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