UnfoldingWord developed an app to help translate the Bible on basic Android tablets. The problem; Bible translation is incredibly complicated and translators in far flung parts of the world have little technical knowledge and so adoption was low. The challenge was to review the current app, learn from translators and find a way to squeeze all the complexities of Bible translation into an easy to use tablet format.
A five day field trip, some UX research, rapid prototyping and an iterative design process OneSheep redesigned the entire app, with a streamlined user interface closely matching traditional translation methodology and ultimately unlocking the next 1000+ Bible translators.
With such a domain specific challenge the first step was to skill up and learn everything we could about the Bible translation processes and then in particular how this app was supposed to work. With this baseline understanding and knowledge of core principles we ventured out into the field to get as close to real users and real contexts as possible.
This type of work User Experience (UX) Research is critical when designing any product, but even richer when you have an existing product in the world and a struggling user base. Fortunately, you can flush out the majority of issues from just five users in a focused study. So, this led us to Ethiopia to sit down for a few days with Bible Translators from across Africa, during one of their regular consultation and training workshops.
The UX Research Study
We had a spectrum of users: some had experience of the app while others had little experience with tablets at all. We captured video of each user working through simple everyday scenarios, setting up a translation project, translating a chunk and checking it.
After the testing scenarios we carried out simple interviews to probe various aspects of the app’s functions and UI.
The Follow Through.
Since the redesign the app has gone on to be widely adopted in pursuit of Bible translation all over the globe, bringing open source and free licensing of the Bible to new people groups and languages. Today over 1000 translators use the app to translate scripture. OneSheep are delighted to contribute to the critical and important effort of Bible Translation. We do not speak Amharic, but technology and good UX made it easier to translate the Bible for someone who does, and that’s a win for us!