Enhancing Design with Learning Science Principles: A Case Study on Grammarly's Redesign Through a Content-First Approach

For this project, our group was assigned the challenge of redesigning Grammarly to better serve individuals facing language inequalities.

Problem Statement: Despite its effectiveness in editing English texts, Grammarly overlooks the needs of users who may not possess a high level of proficiency in the English language.

Grammarly fails to offer…

  • Service in other languages
  • Collaboration with other users
  • Learn more about cultural sensitivity

From here, we got started.

My Roles
UX Research and Design

January 2024 – May 2024

Team Members
Emily Layton, Sangha Park, Nia Moore, Rithvik Rajavelu, Sidhant Subramanian

Key Skills
Contextual Inquiry, Affinity Mapping, Interview Design, Research Plan, Semi-structured Interviews, Observation, Task-based and Think-aloud User Testing


Research & Insights

Affinity Mapping

Our affinity diagram highlighted what users like/don’t like about Grammarly and future design ideas

We were able to develop design requirements based on insights pulled from our affinity mapping session.

Our design process developed our testing timeline

Each UI design feature underwent two rounds of testing and three rounds of iterations. The final designs are shared below. 

Writing Templates

This feature provides templates for standard tasks such as a Recommendation letter, Invitation, Complaint letter in a language students want to learn along with a language they are already comfortable in with the hope to facilitate easy learning.      

The writing templates are designed in a way such that there is no training required to use them.

Feature Justification

Learning Science Principles

  • Prior Learning  – Students come into our courses with knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes gained in other courses and through daily life. It influences how they filter and interpret what they are learning.
    • By providing the template in both the primary and language to learn beside

each other we ensure that prior knowledge of the student is used while learning.  

  • Component Skills Students must develop component skills necessary to perform complex tasks, and practice combining and integrating them to develop greater fluency and automaticity.
    • Component skills can be practiced by trying to translate the individual

paragraphs in the template into the primary language before looking at the equivalents.

Collaborative Game

Old: Implement a daily microlearning feature for users, offering bite-sized lessons and challenges to encourage consistent learning habits.

New: Introduce a daily collaboration game with a native speaker instead of a daily challenge to encourage users to play instead of fostering competition.

Feature Justification

Learning Science Principles

  • Social Learning Theory
      • Individuals can learn from observing others, especially in a social context
      • Learners enhance their own language acquisition by partnering with a Native Speaker/Expert to observe and emulate the language use, pronunciation, and conversational strategies
      • Receive feedback and guidance from a native speaker can enhance practice and correction
  • Metacognition
    • Assist users with varying levels of expertise in a task to evaluate their approach
    • Collaborating with a native speaker can aid users who are less familiar with the language in grasping the steps needed to progress from a novice level and improve their language skills

Speech Accent

Speech Accent offers sentences in different accents and dialects to provide users with more immersive language learning experience.  Language learning is a nuanced journey that extends beyond vocabulary and grammar; accents and dialects allow learners to delve deeper into the cultural intricacies of the language.  Speech Accent provides exposure to various accents to learners and help them develop sharper listening skills and enhanced adaptability

Feature Justification

Learning Science Principles

  • Cultural Learning
    • Speech Accent’s primary goal is to promote linguistic diversity and foster an appreciation for the rich tapestry of language and dialects. 
    • To ensure cultural responsiveness, the representation of accents should be diverse and inclusive, avoiding stereotypes or biases. 

  • Constructivism
  • Speech Accent feature also offers speech recognition, which encourages users to take an active role in building their own understanding and knowledge through interactions with the environment. 

This feature encourages users to interact with the material in a participatory manner by listening to and interpreting various accents.

AI Translation Feature

The AI translation feature focuses on helping language learners translate words they don’t know and provide them with background and contextual insights about the word and its uses.  This would help build a vocabulary of the language being learned with added context and without completely removing the users first language Kind of like learning language with a native speaker (the AI).

Our design process developed our testing timeline

Learning Science Principles

  • The Sociocultural Theorylearning doesn’t happen alone, but rather in groups where social interaction and cultural tools are the primary drivers of intellectual development
    • The feature seeks to be a peer for students who don’t have access to native speakers and want to develop their language learning skills. This feature gives them the cultural tools needed to better understand how to utilize the language in various situations.  
  • Cultural Learning focuses on implementing culture into teaching to ensure that it is easier and more memorable for learners to understand

The feature aims to help students develop a better understanding of how culture plays a part in the language they are learning and how it compares to their own.

Cultural Settings Feature

Cultural settings allows for users to provide needed context as to the goal, style, and audience of their written message Many different regions have different grammars or dialects and it was important to our project that we accommodated these differences.  Having the ability to change the cultural settings for each document allows users to better understand differences in dialects and also enables them to gain a greater understanding of cultural norms in various regions

Feature Justification

Learning Science Principles

  • Cultural Learning
    • Focus on adjusting settings for context and cultural sensitivity.
    • Aims to enhance learning for individuals from specific cultures by providing familiar contexts.
    • Improves understanding of a culture for those outside of it by incorporating cultural nuances into learning materials.

  • Immediate Feedback
  • Offers real-time suggestions and feedback as the user works on their paper.
  • Feedback includes adjustments for slang, audience appropriateness, and regional dialects/grammar.
  • Helps prevent the formation of incorrect writing habits by correcting them early in the learning process.