black and gray map with results of DNA tests displaying on countries
logo of Ancestry

Ancestry Product Vision

by John Wayne Hill

Inspire billions of people through self-identity and greater belonging

Over time the various products and features from Ancestry had become fragmented, disjointed, and hard to utilize. In 2017 we formed a "tiger team" to take on a vision for the future that could bring together multiple experiences into one cohesive product, via an iOS app.

I lead a team of 3 designers to create an all-encompassing product vision including multiple prototypes, multiple presentations, demo app on iOS, product posters, and an introduction video.

We wanted to help customers answer three basic questions
  1. Where do I come from?
  2. How do I belong?
  3. What can I become?
Ancestry Product Vision; One Cohesive experience, shown as an iOS app.
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Getting There

I worked with VP's of product and design throughout our initial research phases, including conducting multiple workshops, ideation sessions, and customer interviews. We gathered up all of this massive information, along with previous research on our products, and started figuring out the product vision and strategy. We created personas for our current and future customers and crafted a narrative story for the overall vision. Once we stepped into creating screens, we initially hired an outside agency, but ultimately brought the work in-house due to the complexity of the product space.

I was responsible for not only undertaking the overall design of the experience and vision, but also its communication via a company offsite. Our design phase went through iterative user flows, wireframes, visual explorations, and prototyping; over the course of ten weeks. Ultimately, the product vision was showcased with presentations and a video at an all-hands company offsite.

Sketches of screens, workshops, and personas.
Workshops and materials in getting towards the product vision


Key moments and responsibilities

Design lead working with V.P. of Design to create a future vision for Ancestry

Lead workshops with executives and major stakeholders

Lead a tiger team of just 3 designers

Presented early work to V.P. of Product and Technology for feedback

Lead round of visual design concepts to explore different emotional and visual representations

Created native prototype to showcase major moments, motion design, and emotional experience

Highlight video to unveil product vision at company offsite

Executive presentation to unveil product vision at company offsite

illustration of a man moving bars on a screen

Design Details

Showcasing a cohesive and comprehensive vision for the future of Ancestry products; all in one app.

I lead the design and creation of a promo video for a company-wide offsite to introduce the new product vision and get people excited about it.
When starting an Ancestry experience, even without DNA, we wanted to give customers insights into their own history. Where possible, we would automatically create a family tree, based on quick survey answers and other data.
As DNA is processed, additional data becomes available. We utilized a newsfeed to showcase the various content that is now available, based on each customer's journey.
We also revisited many of Ancestry's key features and found ways to modernize and revitalize features such as Family Trees.
We designed experiences to help people connect to one another in new and interesting ways with Compare, Relatedness, and Map features.
The flagship DNA product was reimagined as an immersive story-telling experience via scrolling.
Looking towards the future, we integrated a Health product with interactive features and ways to help customers live better lives.
I lead the team in designing massive updates to current features such as Search, Ancestor Profiles, and Messaging.
And we designed brand new features for interactivity, engagement, and customer delight; some of which included story capturing, historical comparisons, and automatic memory-based story creation.

Additional Details In Person

Thanks for checking out my work! This is just a high-level overview for this particular case study. During in person interviews and presentations I go over additional details such as strategy, process, my direct contributions, and more. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more!

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