Google Photos Sharing

In this role, I conducted both hands-on work in designing growth experiments and solutions for Sharing, while also defining UX strategy for the cross-functional team and managing a small team of designers and a researcher to work on our initiatives.  

The team developed multiple photo sharing features during my leadership tenure, including a redesign of the Sharing page (left), integration of shared content in the new Memories area (middle), and a join album flow (right). Images copyright Google.

UX lead and manager

In my role as UX lead and manager, I worked with my PM and Eng lead counterparts to develop the strategy for sharing within Google Photos. A singular focus on sharing was a big shift for the cross-functional team, as we had originally hired the team to work on a portfolio of discrete problem spaces rather than on one shared problem space. To help the team give input into our strategy, I created an internal research program to learn what everyone on the team was looking for in a new team vision and charter. I then designed and drove a week-long Photos Sharing strategy workshop to co-design a series of project ideas with the larger team, resulting in diverse concepts that fed into our strategy and the completion of a comprehensive competitive analysis.

The team was structured to tackle various parts of photo sharing, including up-leveling the app’s partner sharing feature, improving album sharing, introducing memories sharing, and growth design to explore how to increase engagement with shared media. One of the contributions of the team was integrating shared content and sharing controls into what eventually became a new Google Photos Memories section.

Screenshot of article titled "A new, scrapbook-like Memories view in Google Photos"
The integration of shared content into the new Memories feature was one of the accomplishment of the Sharing team based in Sydney. Image copyright Google.

Growth design for Sharing

In a hands-on capacity, I established a growth design track for experiments that would lead to improvement in sharing engagement. One outcome from an experiment program I designed was a new “Join album” flow, which appears when someone invites another Google account holder to view an album of photos.  The final design, below, includes setting expectations about how many other people might be in the album before a recipient signs in.

Screenshot of a page asking a user to join a shared album.
I created a new join album page on mobile and web via a growth design experimentation process I established.

High quality video sharing via text message

Outside of growth experiments, I also worked directly with a designer on the Android Messages team to integrate a means to send videos in high quality to non-Android messaging recipients. According to Google’s announcement on the feature, “Today, the RCS standard lets people with Android devices share beautiful, high-quality photos and videos with one another. But unfortunately, without RCS, they look blurry when you share them with your iPhone friends. Now everyone can watch your videos in the same resolution that you do since we’re bringing Google Photos into Messages. You can send your videos as Google Photos links right inside the conversation, preserving their clarity. Coming soon, you’ll be able to send your photos this way, too.” Below is a video, from the article, highlighting how the feature works.

Video from the Google Blog showcasing how Google Photos integration works with Android Messages. Video copyright Google.

Summary of my activities

  • Problem space definition
  • Strategy & visioning
  • Experiment design
  • Interaction design
  • UI design
  • Management

Google Photos Portfolio

I co-founded the Google Photos Portfolio team in Sydney as its sole designer and partnered with a PM lead and small engineering team to define new products and services that would expand the Google Photos ecosystem. I identified and led the pursuit of new opportunities through research, running team ideation workshops, and creating vision storyboards and other artifacts to rally excitement around our opportunities.

Ultimately we defined what became 3 main areas of work, ranging from short to longer-term bets: Google Photos Partner Program and Library APIs, which drove multiple partnerships and implementations; a 2 year international “schoolfood” program in the education space; and a lightweight photo gallery app for NBU users called Gallery. Eventually, I built up a small team of 3 designers and a researcher to scale these efforts.

One of our first launches was the Google Photos Library API and Partner Program, introduced at Google I/O 2018. The API was built to support the increasing need for people to be able to use their photos across the different apps and devices they use. I defined the first round of UX principles that informed the API’s acceptable use policy for the Partner Program. I created the initial version of the UX guidelines as well as the frontend UI for a sample application for the GitHub repository.

Screenshot from the public Google Photos Library APIs UX guidelines page
Screenshot from the Google Photos APIs UX guidelines

Through our investment in multiple project bets, we scaled the Photos Portfolio team from just 8 people in the starting days to more than 40 by 2021. In addition to hands on design work and a focus on mentoring my design reports as we grew, I also worked hard to help everyone on the team understand the value of UX design, and built a relationship with product managers that empowered them to contribute to design as much as anyone else. Members of our team were featured in the 2019 issue of Careers with Stem with a focus on women in tech.

Myself along with other members of our team were highlighted in the 2019 issue of Careers in STEM (far right)

Summary of my activities

  • Problem space definition
  • Strategy & visioning
  • Concept design & storyboarding
  • Research
  • Prototyping
  • Information architecture
  • Interaction design
  • UI / visual design
  • Guideline publication
  • Technical documentation
  • Go-to-market
  • Hiring
  • Management