Several time per day I look up Chinese words using the http://dianhuadictionary.com/ app on my iPhone. Often my goal is a sentence. I look up several words at a time that I will need for saying or text-messaging a sentence in Chinese. I usually know the correct way to say it and all the small connecting words, it’s the nouns I forget. For sentences, tools like Google Translate are generally not accurate beyond the most simple phrase, also they require an internet connection which can be spotty or too slow to bother with in mainland China. Searching the dictionary one word at a time is not an efficient way to create a sentence either.
So, I mocked this up. Write English words. Search. Select the proper characters/Chinese words to form your sentence. If words or phases are in the wrong order, drag up or down to correct them. Copy and paste, save, or just read aloud.
Perhaps a later version would have some simple Chinese grammar structures the user could drag in and place words into.
I’ll also say, Chinese dictionaries could benefit from cross referencing their search results with a Chinese character/word frequency lists such as: http://lingua.mtsu.edu/chinese-computing/statistics/char/list.php?Which=MO This way, when I lookup a word I don’t know, the most frequently used corresponding Chinese word appears at the top. (I know this would not work in all cases, but definitely most.) Since cross-referencing would likely decrease search speed, I suggest only showing the top 3 or 4 results and allow the user to press “show more” if need be. I’d also love to be able to mark words with tags, remove them from search results, and add example sentences. All this could even be synced back up to a main source or http://cc-cedict.org to help everyone.