Khel mail - Mobile app to promote vernacular languages


A mobile solution to encourage mobile phone users to use and become (more) literate in the local language through casual learning.


Khel mail (‘Khel’ meaning playing and ‘mail’ as in messages) is for children with working parents. Playing and learning with their parents, children begin to understand the world. We wanted to bring back the use of visual metaphors to create poetry on mobile phones. Khel mail uses icon based messaging to increase language proficiency.

This project was developed as part of a competition organized by Nokia Research Labs and was overseen by three liaisons. Our three member team was one of the 9 finalists out of 50 that participated across the country.


Duration: 5 months - Feb to July 2011
Team: Ragini Lall, Rohit Biyani
Role: All phases of design and presentation, solely responsible for task flow and interface designs at various levels of fidelity
Phase 1: Research

User research

Our initial target group was middle class Muslim women in Bangalore. Our user interviews led us to map out their behaviors and motivations. We explored the forms and value of Urdu in contemporary India, especially in an environment where the predominant languages are Kannada and Hindi.


Muslim women are a minority, not just in terms of religion and culture but gender too. It is hard for some of them to access information independently. This gave us the opportunity to make technology democratizing and the mobile phone, a tool for liberation.


Creating personas

Defining our target audience’s education, skills, mobile phone usage, family and social behaviors, expectations and problems helped us conceptualize solutions.


Deriving opportunity spaces

Based on gaps and needs and areas of design intervention

Phase 2: Conceptualization

Deriving directions and storyboards for 4 concepts, evaluating them and creating detailed scenarios, task flows and key screens for 3 concepts. These concepts were supported by market and ecosystem research, technical feasibility and revenue model considerations.

Phase 3: Iteration

Creating task flows, scenarios and wireframes with hotspots. Since the team at Nokia was unable to meet us in the same location, we included detailed design rationales for each screen. We created the walkthroughs for each of the 3 concepts but at the end of it, we knew which one was a more compelling service.


Phase 4: User testing

User testing the final concept with paper prototypes was quite unconventional. Since the user groups were children and their parents, we had to formulate a game around the user testing. After establishing that the children were comfortable using mobile phones, we asked them to play the game with their parent using stickers, pens and the paper prototype.


Phase 5: Iteration

Based on user testing, we concluded that it's difficult to start composing even a simple poem with a blank screen. Also, composing a poem takes more time than we anticipated. The design iterations were focussed on solving both of these challenges.


We also made iterations in the visual aspect of the app and made it higher fidelity.

Phase 6: Execution

We created a Flash prototype to show the app at work when a parent and child use it to create a simple rhyming poem.

© 2020 by Shruti Aditya Chowdhury