I participated in two app projects created by the Siminchikkunarayku Foundation, a collective which creates digital tools for indigenous languages in Peru. These apps are Huqariq, an app used to collect corpus data from indigenous native speakers, and Qillqaq, an app that indigenous speakers can use to transcribe audios and share them.
At the moment, the prototypes are programmed to only work with Quechua chanca and Quechua collao, two Quechua variants from central Peru. Nevertheless, the team wanted to update the apps so they can be presented to different stakeholders and apply for financing to keep on developing them. These apps are meant to be free as they contribute to speech recognition research and they are to be used by indigenous speakers in Peru. These users need digital accessibility tools as they are not fluent in the dominant Peruvian language: Spanish. There are 4 million of Peruvians who speak 48 indigenous languages (44 Amazonic and 4 Andean languages).
Peruvian indigenous language speakers who have an Android smartphone. For now, the app is available for Quechua collao users and Quechua chanca users, but in the future the team wants to expand it for other speakers of languages such as Aimara, Awajun, Shipibo Konibo and Ashaninka.
I was called as a UX/UI designer mainly to improve the initial prototypes through better user experience and design, adding other language options and illustrations.
Illustrator, Photoshop, Figma, Pen and paper, Notion
There was a need to redesign both the user experience and the aesthetics of the two apps Huqariq and Qillqaq, to make it easier to use, more inclusive and accesible.
The solution process
I firstly designed the app Huqariq through diagnosis, wireframes and prototype and then I designed Qillqaq based on the former app, following the same steps.
Diagnosis, moodboard and logo redesign
I made a diagnosis for the Qillqaq app, screen by screen and presented it to Rodolfo, the team leader. I referred here to what we could do in the short term and also presented ideas for long term improvement and growth.
I also showed a moodboard of graphic styles for the UI of the app, including buttons, color palettes and typography, and some illustrations that went with the look and feel of what I felt was appropriate for the app.
I then proceeded to redesign the logos, where I decided to give it a flat design style and using negative space.
After a few meetings and feedback I proceeded with designing some wireframes on paper. I did a rough pass first and then a second pass, where I corrected the order and addition/deletion of some panels.
Once the wireframe sketches was approved, I started the Figma file, adding the buttons, text and basic graphics to the digital prototype, as well as creating the links and interactions between screens. Here we noticed that we might add a few new panels, such as Donate panel, at the end of the progression.
Finally, I add the illustrations I made myself depicting Andean and Amazonian people, who represent the users of the app, using traditional clothes from their region and culture.
After a few edits after that, the Figma prototype passed to the back-end development team to be coded into the Android app.
Constraints and limitations of the project
This project did not count with user research, which was a limitation. I mentioned on my diagnosis that it would be important to do this, as little is known about the users of these apps. This is because these apps are pioneers on their field of speech-recognition on indigenous languages. Nevertheless, to proceed with user research on these users is an endeavour which requires planning, financing and an appropriate plan, as it would involve the app being used by users who speak different indigenous languages and have very little experience with digital devices and tools. It requires for the team to go to these regions, which is hard at the time being due to lack of funding and the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing made online in Peru is still hard to apply as users on remote areas do not have much access to Internet.
What did I learn
This was my first UX/UI project so I learned a lot by working on it about the process, making wireframes and using Figma. I noticed how important accessibility needs to be thought and planned, even though sometimes you cannot afford to do everything that is required to be done, such as user research. I think this is a vital part of the user experience design process that I wish I will be able to experiment on other projects regarding accessibility. I also learned a lot about speech-recognition software development as well as language corpus and transcript tools, which are topics I am not familiar with. I want to be able to work on other indigenous language apps to be able to understand better the UX behind them and be able to formulate better solutions to their problems.
"Brilliant is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about María José Campos. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing María José for 1 year, during which motivated by her desire to support the native languages of Peru, she joined Siminchikkunarayku Foundation. Above all, I was impressed with Maria’s ability to create unique things. And, of course, her commitment. Maria Jose would be a true asset for any positions requiring creativity and artistry, and comes with my heartfelt recommendation."
Team leader and director of Siminchikkunarayku Foundation