Google Photos

I worked with the Google Photos team to address key product challenges and design for their next billion customers.

Google Photos is the home for your memories, automatically organized and read to share.

Every day, over a billion people search across their devices for people, places, and things.

I designed and tested a plurality of solutions to address the product's top user issue at that time–ironically, people couldn’t always find the photos they were looking for!

The Challenge
Looking at the data, our team was able to focus our efforts on the top five root causes.

  1. Device folders are not backed up (Android only).
  2. Google drive sync settings are not enabled.
  3. Search is still indexing.
  4. People don't understand the deletion model.
  5. Third party digital cameras don’t always display the correct date and time stamps.

The Work
We organized a series of collaborative design sprints.

First, we validated our understanding of each use case with our product, engineering, and support stakeholders.

We sketched opportunities with our Design team, then with Google Support, and lastly with the cross-functional Google Photos team.

Each iteration helped us reach an equal footing with our colleagues, and helped us build on each other's ideas. 

Product Concepts


Communicating Context
I organized a quick brainstorm with a writer to reposition device folders, an Android-only concept within the app. Android users love the ability to control how third-party apps like What’s App store images on their device. 

Our strongest idea was “Apps and Screenshots” which we thought communicated this content more clearly. I also proposed bringing the sync toggles from the settings page onto this page of the product, so people can make those decisions more contextually. 

Setting Expectations for Search 
Here’s an example of a product design iteration.


Original Design
In this design, people trying to search weren’t able to understand when they should check back. With the static image, they weren’t confident that the processing was not stuck and was still occurring. But exactly how long does indexing take?


Initial Wireframe
Speaking with the engineers,
I learned that indexings a tricky problem that varies based on the size of your library, the specific network upload and download speeds of your device, and the overall volume of image processing and computer vision that Google is doing in the cloud.


Refined Wireframe
After striving for technical transparency, I simplified the design to a progress bar as part of the search input field. This real-time expectation of approximate completion status also prevents the need for the error page.


Final Design
I combined the progress bar along with the dismissable in-product education card.

Anticipating Inconsistencies


I love helping companies differentiate themselves by unlocking competitive advantages.

Google knows a lot about you, including a lot about your trip chronology. I was able to leverage Google’s unique understanding of trip context along with the Google Photos Engineering team’s interest in machine learning to propose the following timestamp batch
edit concept.

Marketing Concepts


Many Google products have a welcome email. This email can be triggered based on engagement, but it often comes a few days after starting use a new product.

Google Photos did not yet have an email, so I pitched the idea to the marketing team. The email proactively educates new users about the positive benefits of Google Photos including search.


Visual Design

Support Concepts

At the time, Google’s help center was mostly text-based. Given that there are seven different types of learning styles beyond verbal, I worked with Google Support to explore new visual, conversational, and interactive experiences.


These concepts present cross-product support content (such as cloud storage) together, include personalized recommendations based on usage, and integrated seperate support channels (chat, video, and the community forum).

Collaborative brainstorming across Google’s product, support and marketing teams helped create integrated solutions across channels.

Bringing Google Support into the product design process allowed us to address top user issues proactively, rather than just reactively. The teams gained empathy by experiencing how rigorous the product development process is and how difficult product and support issues are to solve.



Google Brand Studio
(Executives, Creative Leadership, Product Management, Engineering, Marketing, Support, and Content Strategy.) 

Google Photos

Product/UX Design
(Problem Definition, Journey Mapping,
Brainstorming, Wireframing, High-fidelity Mockups, and Interactive Prototyping.)

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