what duolingo does differently

ASO Breakdown: What Duolingo is Doing Differently From its Top Competitors

In this ASO breakdown, let’s take a look into the language learning apps. We pulled out the top 10 most downloaded apps on the Google Play Store worldwide as of February 2024 for this store research. Here’s what Duolingo is doing differently from its competitors on the Google Play Store to stand out.


The design setting primarily features a solid and colorful background, without any specific narrative context. Approximately half of the icons incorporate logos, adding a distinct visual element. Moreover, a significant majority, around 60%, of the icons are rendered in blue or purple tones. Nearly 70% matching the color scheme of the company or studio. Duolingo, in the other hand, utilizes its signature green color in its icon. Overall, the design ethos leans towards simplicity, favoring solid colors and a clear focal point for each element. This ensures a visually cohesive and engaging aesthetic.

The focus points in this design exhibit a diverse range of elements aimed at engaging the audience. Approximately 40% of the icons center around single neutral-gender characters. Often it resembles animals or children with friendly expressions and direct eye contact. Such elements create an inviting atmosphere, including Duolingo’s famous owl. These characters are typically positioned close to the viewer’s eye level, enhancing their prominence within the design. Another 40% of the icons prioritize text as their focal point, often serving as logos and presented in capitalized style for emphasis. Finally, a similar proportion of icons, 40%, incorporate conversation boxes, adding an interactive element to the design. Overall, these focus points are strategically placed to capture the viewer’s attention and foster a dynamic user experience.



The average number of screenshots per app stands at eight, with Duolingo presenting a slightly lower count of six. Most apps, approximately 90%, opt for a portrait orientation, aligning with mobile viewing preferences. Interestingly, majority of the showcased apps include no preview videos. Most rely on static imagery to highlight features and functionalities, including Duolingo. These insights shed light on design choices and user engagement strategies across the depicted applications.


The general design aesthetic of the screenshots leans towards simplicity and cleanliness, often featuring solid color backgrounds that serve to emphasize the showcased content. However, Duolingo diverges from this trend by incorporating multiple colors within its screenshots, creating a more vibrant visual experience. Across the board, most apps align their color schemes with their brand identity, maintaining consistency and reinforcing brand recognition. Additionally, a prevalent approach involves using simulated phone views to present the apps and their functionalities. This offers the users a familiar and relatable perspective. These design choices collectively contribute to a cohesive and engaging user experience, while also effectively communicating the app’s features and benefits.


In the screenshot presentations, Duolingo distinguishes itself by employing predominantly neutral cartoon characters. This is a departure from other games which tend to feature more realistic adult characters. Notably, Duolingo’s character choices appear to be gender-balanced, with an equal representation of genders. This deliberate use of neutral cartoon characters aligns with Duolingo’s educational focus, fostering inclusivity and accessibility across diverse user demographics. Conversely, other games opt for a more realistic portrayal of adults, potentially catering to different target audiences or thematic preferences. Overall, these character design decisions play a significant role in shaping the visual identity and user experience within the respective apps.


In contrast to mobile game apps, language learning applications prioritize the prominence of text content within their screenshots. These apps dedicate a significant portion of the screenshot real estate to taglines and textual information, ensuring that key messages are effectively communicated to users. Typically, text is displayed in white color, presented in sentence case format, and positioned at the top middle of the screenshots. This strategic placement ensures that the textual content remains highly visible and easily readable, facilitating user engagement and comprehension. By foregrounding text in this manner, language learning apps effectively communicate their educational content and features to potential users, emphasizing the central role of language acquisition within their platforms.

But wait, there is more!

In order to establish credibility, many apps demonstrate their accolades, ratings, or media features within their screenshots. The placement of such is often either at the beginning or the end of the sequence. This serves to reassure users of the quality and reputation of the app. Additionally, apps showcase their interactivity by featuring conversations with programmed bots or characters, or even real interactions between people, fostering engagement and immersion. Language learning apps, often emphasize their language options by showcasing different country flags. This strongly demonstrates the genre’s focus on linguistic diversity. Notably, Lingokids and Lingutown utilize hands to guide users on the next actions to take through visual cues. It is uncommon for apps to prominently feature logos within their screenshots, instead they focuson demonstrating functionality and user experience. These design choices collectively contribute to creating engaging and credible app presentations that cater to user needs and expectations.


What Duolingo is doing differently distinguishes itself from its competitors is seen in design and user engagement strategies.

Firstly, Duolingo’s icon design stands out with its signature green color, which not only reinforces its brand identity but also creates visual consistency and recognition. While other apps tend to use a variety of colors, Duolingo maintains a cohesive aesthetic that is both visually appealing and memorable.

Secondly, Duolingo strategically utilizes engaging focus points in its design, such as its iconic owl mascot and conversational elements, to create an inviting atmosphere for users. By incorporating friendly characters and interactive elements, Duolingo fosters a dynamic user experience that encourages active participation in language learning.

Thirdly, Duolingo’s screenshot presentations depart from the norm by featuring predominantly neutral cartoon characters, in contrast to the more realistic adult characters often found in other language learning apps. This deliberate choice reflects Duolingo’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, catering to a diverse range of users regardless of age or gender.

Overall, Duolingo’s design choices, from its icon design to its use of characters and focus points, contribute to a visually cohesive and engaging user experience that sets it apart from its competitors in the language learning app market. By prioritizing simplicity, consistency, and inclusivity, Duolingo effectively communicates its features and benefits while fostering a welcoming environment for users to learn and grow.

Pro tip: the ASO breakdown presents multiple opportunities for studios to conduct A/B tests and fine-tune their apps for optimal performance. By experimenting with various elements such as screenshot layouts, text content, color schemes, and feature placements, studios can gather insights into user preferences and behavior. Through iterative testing and analysis, studios can identify the most effective strategies to enhance visibility, increase downloads, and improve overall user satisfaction. This systematic approach to optimization enables studios to stay competitive in the app marketplace and continuously improve their app listings to meet evolving user needs.

Ps. Did you already read our previous ASO Breakdown about the Legend of Mushroom?


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