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Google Duo Low Light Mode

A new research-based feature to address user needs and stimulate growth in worldwide


Duo's introduction of a Low Light Mode was a confluence of previously conducted research by Duo researchers, the prioritization of much asked for features or alternately, complaints, and to some extend my own personal identification of the growing need for aid in low light video chat conditions.


(See my other projects Imbue and Panda on lighting for video)

The sole designer on this project, I picked up guiding and supporting user research and testing to validate working prototypes, seeking to answer some specific, high-value questions about permissions, automation, and real need.

I worked closely with 1-2 program managers in launching the feature, helping refine the PRD (product requirement document) based on my analysis and designs, to make sure all were aligned. I also oversaw and helped write the copy for onboarding and in-app teaching, which was crucial to the user adoption and expectations.

With minimal visual design needed for this feature, the real depth, discussion, and work was in two general, intertwined areas: adoption and onboarding of the new feature, and the level of user control and/or automation of the feature under changing conditions.

Some oncerns that were squarely on the shoulders of design and PM were:

If Duo's message is 'highest quality video', then how would users perceive a bump in graininess out of the ordinary, if we adjusted the 'gain' in low light?

Are we at risk of a false auto-on condition with users with darker skin? Regardless of intention, Google and Duo's brand, and the real life negative effects of a bad UX, is unacceptable.

How automated should this feature be? Should we give users an out to disable it, and if so, should it be temporal or lasting?

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