Ancestry DNA Story screens on iPhone

Ancestry DNA Story

Where did you come from? How did your DNA move around the world?

Ancestry DNA Story helped customers answer an age-old question, “where am I from”? Through the science of DNA, we could help uncover mysteries and confirm stories told throughout a family's history.

When I came onboard to Ancestry the DNA Story product, then called Origins, was a basic pie-chart and map, serving around 1.5M customers. Over the course of 3.5 years, I led the overall design and vision for the product as we grew to over 15M customers. I led the team in launching the first major update to the product, which included new scientific understanding, and changed results for customers. Through designed experiences, we slowly changed the mental model of customers helping with customer adoption and enthusiasm for new result updates, at a yearly pace.

Ancestry DNA Story on iOS with Results Updated and example results.
Ancestry DNA Story on iOS showing results and detials

Getting There

When I came onboard to Ancestry the DNA Story product, then called Origins, was a basic pie-chart and map, serving around 1.5M customers. Over the course of 3.5 years, I led the overall design and vision for the product as we grew to over 15M customers. I led the team in launching the first major update to the product, which included new scientific understanding, and changed results for customers. Through designed experiences, we slowly changed the mental model of customers helping with customer adoption and enthusiasm for new result updates, at a yearly pace.

Sketches and older interface for the Ancestry DNA Story product. Showing the evolution over three years.

Highlights

Key moments as Director of UX and Design

Grew customer base from to over 15M customers over 3 years; partnering with the marketing team to deliver a best-in-class product that matched closely to commercials and advertising

Lead design across multiple platforms, growing from a desktop-focused experience to a mobile web and native app experience

Collaborated with DNA science team to deliver experiences based on pioneering scientific breakthroughs to showcase the movement of people and shared DNA across the world

Lead multiple, iterative product vision sessions as the product and market grew and shifted

Completed redesigned experience for better story-telling, usability, and a more engaging emotional experience

Lead the market in helping to shift customers mental model of DNA from a set science to an evolving science

Created first personalized introduction into the product, and subsequent result updates; pattern then became reused through Ancestry

Ancestry DNA Story across multiple platforms including iOS, Android, and Web.

Results & Metrics

This project delivered a radical and sustained lift in NPS, CSAT, user engagement, and sales

The team was awarded design patents in 2018

Wirecutter - Best DNA Ancestry Test

TechCrunch - Ancestry answered the DNA questions 23andMe couldn’t

Design Details

Designs across desktop & mobile web, iOS, iPadOS, and Android. Designs were executed across 2 main teams, with around 4 designers in total. Designs below are from 2019-2020.

Ancestry DNA Story on iOS
Ancestry DNA Story on iOS platform. Showing the main 'results' and overview, result details for a Region, and result details for a Community (groups of people who shared DNA and their movement around the world).
Ancestry DNA Story on mobile web
Ancestry DNA Story on mobile web. This product was optimized for each platform and launched/released on all platforms at the same time.
Ancestry DNA Story, results updated feature
In 2016 customers had a mental model of DNA products, thinking that results from DNA were 100% accurate and would never change. Through multiple feature iteration, we helped to change and shape customers' mental models towards a more realistic and changing landscape. This feature showcases an updated results release, which has been on a quarterly basis.
Ancestry DNA Story on desktop web
The design was optimized for various platforms and screen sizes. Over my three year history leading the experience, we shifted customers from a desktop experience to a mobile web and app experience with focused features and optimized designs.
Minimalism
Results details showing the depth the product could go into for each customer.
Minimalism
The DNA Story product was personalized to each customer and had depth that no other DNA product had, especially with our Genetic Communities feature. This feature showcases groups of people, with whom you share DNA, and how they moved around the world over time.
Ancestry DNA Story social sharing via Instagram
It's exciting to get your DNA Results, and customers naturally wanted to share results with friends and family. We designed and created features making this easy. we also partnered with our marketing department to create time/holiday/event-based sharing images for greater virality.