USER RESEARCH
UX DESIGN
UI DESIGN


DroneDeploy

DroneDeploy is a drone software solution that helps businesses in construction and agriculture, collect, manage, and interpret drone data. The company wanted to orient the product towards actionable analysis of data over time as well as identify and address usability gaps thru improved user flows.

Results

Key success metrics were as follows:

  1. Within the first month of 100% rollout, <5% of customers had switched back to the old interface.
  2. Customer satisfaction and NPS for usability improved.

By extending the focus of the DroneDeploy experience from single map to multiple maps analyzed over time, we were able to create a cohesive and improved customer flow. The team delivered:

  1. Extensive research and analysis of customer workflows
  2. Updated information architecture for the DroneDeploy customer experience
  3. Version 1 of the new DroneDeploy interface for desktop and mobile
  4. A style guide of colors, typography and component usage for the interface

“The new Projects feature is fantastic. We need more of these kinds of Enterprise features which makes our executive, value-based conversations so much better!” - DroneDeploy customer

Case Study

The problem

DroneDeploy helps its customers autonomously fly drones, capture imagery, and stitch images together to create a map of a location. As drone hardware became more reliable, the company observed two things:

  1. People began to create maps at a higher frequency and repeatedly map a single location.
  2. Pilots were no longer the only people on the platform; as drone operations became more mature, new roles such as “the analyst” and “the administrator” were born. Entire teams began collaborating around a map.

The problems were that:

  1. The software was still centered around individuals maps, targeted at pilots, and not built for high frequency mapping and collaboration.
  2. This caused a lot of frustration and tedium for DroneDeploy users (see details in research below).

As drone usage sky rocketed, an opportunity presented itself for DroneDeploy to support more mature drone operation teams.

Diving Deeper with Research

Customer research

We observed how customers were currently using the product.

Examples of customer usage where they retype the location and date for each map

We analyzed and tested analogous products that customers were using.

Analogous products (left). Mobile interactions for an agriculture mapping product (right).

We met with customers to observe their on-site operations, project flow and gather qualitative insights.

We heard customers say things like:

“Where is my map?”
“How can I see other maps in this area?”
“Do I need to share each individual flight to my team?”
“Where can I find my flight logs?”
“I wish there was an easier way to re-fly a flown plan.”

PRoto-personas

Through research, we created proto-personas to represent our main users and clarify their goals and motivation.



Reframing the problem

Customers with robust drone operations struggle to consistently find, create and share the data they need to do their job with confidence because the product is currently focused on single flights. Sometimes they get things done elsewhere by using competitor products.

How might we provide value for customers who monitor the same location over time and collaborate with other team members on maps while maintaining ease-of-use for customers who fly a location just once?

Prioritizing pain points and clarifying scope

Product and engineering came together to review research findings, discuss product direction, and brainstorm how we might get to a more useful Enterprise-level offering while still supporting smaller drone operations and considering the platform’s current architecture.

Concepts, testing, and design decisions

We started by examining the following two flows:

  1. New Project (eg. What’s in a Project? How do you create it?)
  2. Existing Project (eg. What are the core workflows in a Project? How do you accomplish them in this new world?)

Design activities included:

New project flow

Concept A

In Concept A, we explored enabling users to create a Project with the least amount of friction. In testing, we found that although Projects were incredibly easy to create, it wasn’t clear to users what action they had just taken.

Concept A: Task flow and mocks

Concept B

In Concept B, we explored a more robust new Project workflow with intentionality around setting location. Although there were technically more steps to create the project, they were painless steps that the user expected to walk through when setting up a new Project. Users felt confident throughout the new Project creation workflow.

Concept B: Task flow and mocks

User testing results

We user tested both concepts (pictured below, left) and held a design review (pictured below, right).

Concept C

In Concept C, we married the best of both worlds; we kept the intentionality of Concept B intact (setting up a location for your project) while also allowing users to go straight to uploading images for a new or existing project. We also began to explore using the screen real estate in a more meaningful way as seen in the second and third mock below while setting a project location.

Existing project flow

We followed a similar design process for the New Project flow. More details to come soon. :)

Detailed UI design

While the core part of this project was restructuring the information architecture to create a more usable experience and better support mature drone operation teams, we were also able to refresh the visual style and define best practices for typography and component usage. Examples include updates to the horizontal navigation, sub navigation, and bottom action bar.

We maintained the dark primary navigation color with a light typeface to highlight active pages. A light UI with strong contrasting colors is crucial for readability for customers out in the field under bright sunlight. We incorporated a blue gradient and larger icons for improved scannability. Below is a selection of design components and their usage.