JLPT study app - a call for ios/android developers

Michele Angeloro
Art Director
4 September 2015

Michele here.

A few weeks ago I started downloading several Japanese learning apps - free and paid, cheap and expensive ones and after spending some time on them I have concluded that the asset on the app store is very poor and I couldn’t resist the urge to design a modern product that would solve what I believe developers out there are not taking in serious consideration: quality and consistency.

Below my concerns and considerations on these two matters.

1) The cake is a lie.
They state the app are designed to teach Japanese but in fact 99% of them don’t really teach you anything and just feature a huge database of pre-made kanji lists and sentences.

One other thing that really irritates me is when they say the app will prepare you for JLPT in a fancy smart way. Another lie. They basically are just tap-and-go lists with both Japanese and English translation in the same screen. Now how am I supposed to learn the language if you don’t even let me try to guess the answer? If your app just happens to be a JP/EN dictionary then do me a favour: don’t promote it as the ultimate solution for JLPT studying.

2) Expectation v Reality
I am minimalist pixel-perfect digital maker. I believe that less is more and that there exists the right place for everything. Sadly what I see after launching these apps is:

- Misplacements
- Indecent interfaces
- Outdated UI
- What-the-hell infrastructure
- False statements
- Bad marketing

It is so frustrating when you look up for something in 2015 and all you get is old crap made without practical purposes.

As I mentioned I designed one myself and was hoping to find someone to join me in this adventure.
Here is my solution: a straight to the point quiz based app.

Main features:
- From easy to complex questions on kanji, vocabulary, particles, counters, hiragana end katakana divided by levels (JLPT1~JLPT5)
- Realistic timer
- Scoring database entries

What it wouldn’t be included
- English answers. Since JLPTs are entirely written in Japanese providing the English translation would be a distraction from your real needs.
- Dictionary. You can't take one with you at the test.
- Kanji stroke orders. Not necessary.

Have already prepared several wireframes and designs.
Will send a preview upon request.

Cheers and thanks for reading!


Mark McFarlane
5 September 2015

Hi Michele,

Thanks for showing me your designs last night. Visually I thought they were very nice.

In terms of UX I'm unable to comment without knowing more about it, and so I'm interested in your process for deciding on features, content and app structure. In particular what learning have you gathered that impacted your choices?

I'd also be interested to see examples of the apps that you mentioned were not up to scratch. Would you be able to share any links?

Looking forward to seeing the app come together! Hopefully Canvas can help you find a suitable developer to collaborate with!



Johan Ronsse
UX Professional
5 September 2015

This reminds me of my Kana Master project - http://kanamaster.com/ . It's a simple app to view hiragana and katakana on your phone and Apple Watch. There's also a quiz included.

Michele Angeloro
Art Director
7 September 2015

Kana Master is a nice app!
Have you been thinking about a Kanji Master app as well?

It's a no-frills/straight to the point quiz based app.
Below a few reasons why I believe such an app could work:

The asset on the App store is very poor and visually speaking they still use pretty old customized iOS frameworks which means > very slow transitions, pointless clicks, time spent learning how to use the app higher than time spent learning Japanese.
UI/UX in most of these apps are inappropriate for a quiz/test where timing and concentration are vital. They rather seem to focus on the quantity of the features and design decorations than the quality of the app itself.

This a list of quiz-based apps I have been using for a while now. Have a look and tell me if it's not time to deliver something new and helpful.

- Japanese character quiz
- Kanji kwiz
-JLPT series
- Kanji box
- iKanji Touch (my fav so far)
-Learn Japanese by MindSnacks

Only kana

- Kana quiz

Michele Angeloro
Art Director
11 September 2015

Ciao folks.
Just letting you know I have started Behance and added a partial study case oh this app. Link in my profile.


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