• Design Director & Lead. Client Collaboration.

Aerial Photography

A cohesive, easy to use flight & camera system

Oct, 2016
Drone controller with UI

Taking Flight

Working with a client from early concepts through final production and delivery of a new, super easy-to-use, best-in-class drone experience. Over one and a half years we collaboratively worked to bring a brand new experience to life, taking aerial photography and videography to new heights.

Throughout this project I was the design lead, closely collaborating with our clients, as well as individually designing wireframes, flows, information architecture, presentations, and screens.

Drone flying with person holding controller with screen in view.
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Sketches, whiteboard drawings, and the making of Ancestry Karma

Getting There

Our project started as a three month concepting engagement with a large, new client. As the design lead, I worked with my team setting up discovery workshops and user research to better understand the problem space and the client's needs. We collaborated closely to work towards multiple solutions and ideas and simultaneously crafted user research to help us figure out the best solution.

To better understand users, we would take novice participants out flying with a drone. We also immersed ourselves in drone flying outside of the office and on weekends. Together with our client's knowledge, this helped us to understand a need to break away from the complicated experience and interfaces of other drones and controllers and create something super simple, easy to understand, and easy to operate.

Key Highlights

  • Crafted and facilitated discovery workshops with client
  • Lead large team, collaborative sketching sessions
  • Designed and lead user research initiatives
  • Immersed team and myself in product space through flying
  • Designed interactions to be within thumbs reach from controller
  • Focused on making flying simple and fun
  • Took three month contract to extended 1.5 years of collaboration
  • Designed a flying experience that anyone could pick up and use
Animation showing our custom drag-to-save interaction via the Onboarding experience
AncestryDNA Traits via iOS app. Showing multiple screens from app.


Red Dot Award | 2017 for Best of the Best in Product Design

Seamless four device user experience

Extended three month contract to 1.5 years

Close collaboration with large team

Influenced hardware and software design for drone and controller

Home screen of controller OS showing a simple swipe up to get flying ui

Home screen showing a quick way to start flying, with a swipe up.

Flight HUD showing that the drone is getting ready to start

Flight HUD showing that the drone is getting ready to start.

Flight HUD showing that the drone is ready to fly

Flight HUD showing that the drone is ready to fly.

Flight HUD showing that the rotors are starting on the drone

As the drone starts up, the screen showcases a message that the rotors are starting.

Flight HUD for drone, shown on the controller

The Flight HUD was the main screen for customers. We worked tirelessly to simplify the screen to just the necessary components. We also crafted the interaction points to be at the edges of the screen, easily reachable with your thumbs that rest on the remote. This screens, and the previous, made this drone one of the easiest to fly, even for novices.

Out of box experience to get the drone ready to fly

Showcasing part of the out of box experience for customers to get the drone ready to fly. Updates were often needed before the first flight to ensure safety and adherence to regulations.

Main screens for drone flight including Home, Flight HUD, Flight Menus, and Video Setting menus.

Most customer interaction with the touchscreen happened on these four screens. The Home screen with easy access to flight. The main Flight HUD with simple, reachable interface. The Flight Menu, accessed via the left-most bottom button. The Video Settings menu, accessed via the right-most bottom button.

Flight HUD screens showing map views, media views, and automatic modes for the drone.

Additional Flight HUD screens showing the ability to fly with a map view; reviewing media while the drone is hovering in flight; and automatic modes for the drone including the ability to return to 'home' position.

Flight tutorial and safety information which displays before the drone's first flight.

Before a customer's first flight with the drone, a quick tutorial is displayed which goes over safety information, how to use the controller, and some basic functions of the software.

Flight simulator screens that helped customers use the real controller

A simulator was also designed to allow for customers to practice flying in a simulated environment, but with the actual controller. This simulator was accessed from the Home screen and helped customers quickly grasp flight basics.