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Amazon Digital Devices

Senior Design Manager, Digital Devices, Amazon
Project Overview
I joined Amazon in 2012, as the organization that created the Kindle e-reader and Kindle Fire was growing into a larger consumer electronics division. We started as the design team for Fire Phone, but gradually expanded our scope to include all of the devices in the division.

Our design org model was federated, with a each product having a dedicated team of designers, but with Sr. Leadership collected on a centralized team. This model had never been used before at Amazon, and was later successfully adopted by other teams across the company.

My Contributions
I worked on all of the devices released by the organization between 2012 and 2018, creating and leading the Design Technology, User Research, Content Design and Production Design teams. I was an Amazon design bar-raiser, taking part in over 350 design interviews during my time at the company. I presented to senior leadership, including the CEO, over 50 times. During one review for Kindle Fire, Jeff Bezos remarked that my team's work was "the best demo I've ever seen."

I created the role of Design Technologist at the company, and by the time I left DT's were included in every design team at the company, with over 120 people in the role. I built a successful User Research team despite being told by my skip-level manager that he didn't believe User Research would ever be needed at Amazon. I built the first team of production designers, which in turn led to the first team of design QA and HIG teams.
Exterior shot of Amazon Day One building during construction. Amazon Spheres are in the background.
Fire Phone
Senior UX Manager
There's no escaping it - the Fire Phone was a massive flop in the market. But I learned so much on that project, and I'm still proud of the work my teams did. We were ultimately not able to convince the CEO that his pet project was not meeting a real customer need, but we were able to design and build an exciting UI that was unlike anything else.

My production design team created all 3D assets on the device, including all lock screens, all icons for Amazon products and services as well as some 3P products, and all map landmarks. All of the character animation, lighting, textures and models were created by my team and used across the entire UI. Our lock screens were called out for special attention during Jeff Bezos' product launch event.

My DT team created tools for validating assets and testing motion. We also modified and refined the algorithm used to detect a flick of the wrist, which was an interaction affordance used by the device. We modified the projection matrix to accentuate depth and motion. And ultimately, our DTs built a version of the phone that replaced all input from the four corner cameras with input from the device accelerometer and convinced leadership that the cameras weren't needed. And it was an innovation in the home screen design that reduced motion sickness in users by using a stable, faceted background and removing the all-white 'cyclorama' background that leadership had requested.

My user research team spent hundreds of hours doing human factors testing of the movement of the wrist and of motion sickness, both of which were major concerns with the 3D UI.

Various views from Fire PhoneVarious views from Fire Phone3D Empire State Building in the Fire Phone Maps app.A fire phone lock screen pinball machineViews from the Amazon Store on Fire Phone.
Sample views from Fire Phone
Jeff B holds up the Fire Phone at the launch event
Jeff Bezos shows the device at the product launch, and a few brief descriptions of dynamic perspective.
Video showing many of the Fire Phone lock screens.
Fire TV
Senior UX Manager
After the first, troubled launch of Fire TV, my org was given design ownership of the product. From that point forward, my team was integral to the design of multiple versions of the UI. Our design team simplified navigation across the entire device and made it much easier to use. My DT team created dozens of UI prototypes, my production design and design QA teams helped raise the bar on fit-and-finish across the device UI, and my user research team played a crucial role in helping designers and PMs understand our customers' needs and the product's place in the market.

Of particular note was my team's work porting all of the 1P Echo Show apps to Fire TV. With some iterations on the designs to account for the different 10-foot viewing experience, we were able to ship all of those apps on device within 6 months.

Unlike Fire Phone, Fire TV was a massive success in the marketplace.
Fire TV Home ViewAmazon Fire Phone hardwarePrime Video app on Fire TVEcho Show weather app after porting to Fire TV and some slight design tweaks.Echo Show sports app after porting to Fire TV and some slight design tweaks.
Various views of Fire TV, including redesigned Echo Show 1P apps ported to Fire TV
Design Technologist Discipline and Shine Awards
Senior UX Manager
As a leader in the Amazon design community and the creator of the DT discipline, I took it upon myself to create and get funding for an event dedicated to bringing DTs from around the company to share insights, thoughts, and projects with each other. The event was a huge success, and grew from that first year to an event that attracted over 100 DTs a year from all over the world.

I also was asked to think about how we could recognize the unsung heroes on our design team. My team and I designed the Shine award, which consisted of a custom award in the shape of a star with the name of the recipient engraved on it along with a tribute video for each recipient. The design of the award was the work of one of my team members and was modeled on our 3D printer. The award was given out yearly and was a huge hit with the team.
Image from the first Amazon DT SummitA presenter presenting his topic to the team. The screen says 'the real world is chaos'A screen from a presentation. The screen describes a methodology for rapid prototyping.The crowd at the first DT Summit.The crowd at the first DT Summit.
Various scenes from the first Amazon DT Summit. This event continued after this and grew to be a large event attended by DTs from around the world.
The Shine award, which my team designed.Shine award, before engravingShine award, rear viewShine award with custom engravingEarly design iterations of the Shine award hardware.
Various shots of the Shine award, which my team designed.
Early design iterations of the Shine award hardware. Early design iterations of the Shine award hardware. Early design iterations of the Shine award hardware.
The multi-screen team scoreboard, which my team designed and built using multiple fireTVs