August Nguyen


We Bridge Language Barriers

When people immigrate into the United States, they have difficulties communicating and understanding, which prevents them from assimilating to the new country. Ladon is a solution to provide them with passionate translators who strive to bridge not only language barriers but also cultural gaps.

The project has won the Social Venture Challenge in CGI University 2016 and First prize in Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Lab by UC Berkeley. Ladon’s service has been launched in California and San Francisco in five languages.


In order to compete with other services already existing, Ladon positioned themselves in a unique place — between personal machine translation like Google Translate and traditional translation companies. Ladon is a modern on-demand service, and still remains the core of having human touch which make them reliable and relatable.


The key factor to Ladon’s success is the ability to spot a gap, and how to fill that gap with design.

As Ladon’s clients come from different backgrounds: from elderly people, social workers to organisations and businesses, the design language was made a flexible combination of flat design — which focuses on content — and depth — which enhances legibility. It looks friendly yet professional at the same time.

Ladon’s fundamental philosophy of being friendly, caring and human-run is translated into a warm and bright shade of blue — the colour of hope and peace — that we call “Ladon Blue” and a system of cartoon characters as the guides for our web pages.


The mobile application is an even more sophisticated representation of the design language. It has to combine the distinctive Ladon visual with the operating system’s assets, and at the same time, looks refreshing and action-nudging. This results in a series of elements — shapes, patterns, colours and animations — that can transmit information, and at a deeper level, the brand’s friendliness and human-feeling.

The available language assistants are grouped into a pseudo-3D shade that let users know how many assistants are available, as well as their call settings at a glance, and expanded upon users’ interaction to reveal detailed information about an assistant’s background, passion and history.


In order to expand the business, Ladon has spread its service to organisations and businesses. Interviews and observation tests were conducted to discover the pain points during non-English speaking consumer-to-business transactions, and test them against a portal/marketplace wireframe, where we bridge the language barriers between consumers and businesses.

One year after its pilot study, Ladon has expanded its service to more than 190 registered clients across the U.S., and recruited a network of more than 100 empowered immigrants as language assistant.