Google Photos Portfolio

I founded the UX and research presence for the first Google Photos team in Sydney, Australia in 2017. Our team was established to explore a “portfolio” of new opportunities for the Google Photos ecosystem.

The team started off small, and my early role on the team was as UX lead and sole UX designer. As a result, I ran strategic activities to define projects, in addition to doing hands-on product design. I identified and led the pursuit of new opportunities by synthesising existing research to find insights; conducting internal and external research directly; and running problem definition and conceptual ideation workshops with the team’s VP, engineering director, and my product manager counterpart, with input from business development, marketing, and other Google teams. We came up with projects that ranged from solid product ideas that could get started straight away, to bigger ideas that involved new types of audiences and so required a more learning-oriented approach.

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. I also hired an additional designer to take over ownership of API reviews with partners.

Screenshot from developer sample application showing how images are loaded
Screenshot from the Google Photos API sample application
Screenshot from the public Google Photos Library APIs UX guidelines page
Screenshot from the Google Photos APIs UX guidelines

For the bigger ideas, I first documented all assumptions, hired a user research vendor to work with to follow up on the assumptions. I then designed everything from pilot programs, to vision storyboards and scenarios to rally the engineering team around, and built prototypes for mobile and web experiences that would be launched in the pilot programs. I also designed the flows/UI/illustrations in the end-user experience.

Over time, I grew a local UX team of designers and researchers to support our expanding portfolio as well as continued iteration of initiatives that had gained investment. Members of this team have publicly launched multiple iterations of Google Photos APIs as well as Gallery Go, a lightweight photo gallery app designed to work on Android Go devices.

Summary of my activities

  • Product visioning
  • Problem definition
  • Workshop facilitation
  • Storyboarding
  • Research synthesis/interviews
  • Product requirements
  • Design principles and best practices
  • Prototyping
  • Information architecture
  • Illustration
  • Hiring
  • Management