GoPro Hero 11 Mini
Leading design for an all-new camera in GoPro's lineup
As a Principal Designer on GoPro's highly skilled camera and hardware design team, I had the privilege of leading the UX design for a revolutionary new addition to their product line: the GoPro Hero 11 Black mini. This ambitious endeavor posed distinct challenges due to its unique component set and considerably smaller, lower resolution screen while maintaining the same hardware controls as the larger cameras in the line.
We constructed and evaluated an entirely fresh set of visual and interaction design patterns. These designs maximized the camera's compact form factor, ensuring user-friendly operation without compromising the immersive GoPro experience. This project highlights the paramount importance of adaptability and creativity in product design, especially when addressing distinct hardware limitations.
The GoPro Mini brought a fresh industrial design and camera experience to the product line. Unlike previous models, it featured a small screen instead of a larger touch interface. Efforts were made to position it as a companion device to the phone app for easy settings adjustment, profile creation, and content transfer. However, luck was not on our side as it was marketed as a Black camera, requiring the inclusion of all the functionality of its larger siblings. With hundreds of possible setting combinations, this posed a challenge for designing within these constraints.
A hand-drawn set of 8-bit icons
Let's take a nostalgic trip back to the Atari 2600. The Mini's screen had a modest resolution of 32x72 pixels, without grayscale support. To accommodate 11 different languages, we searched for pixel fonts and even explored Korean gamer bulletin boards for a suitable Hangul font. The challenge was to translate the icons into an 8-bit format, given the limited screen space and GoPro's extensive iconography system. Below is a glimpse of a fraction of this system.
"With a discerning eye for detail and commitment to excellence, Kevin consistently pushes the limits of product development, while simultaneously driving the process forward, unearthing numerous avenues for enhancing team dynamics and business efficacy."
Principal Designer - Cameras & Hardware UX, GoPro
Dozens of motion prototypes…
Given the novel interaction model we had to iterate on given the limited hardware affordances, prototyping was essential to getting things just right. Unable to get an actual unit deep into the design process, motion prototypes served a key purpose in demonstrating the button jujitsu that would be thrust upon users.
First-run experience and firmware updates
The Mini was one of the first cameras released that required a mandatory firmware update out of the box. Normally, not a big deal this flow took a lot of fine tuning to model the interactions clearly - if you choose the wrong language that could be really tough to correct if the interactions weren't clear.
Navigating camera settings and modes
The camera has two main modes. Easy - which has a set of capture resolutions pre-set that can just be cycled through. The hope was that, for most users, this would be the primary mode of the camera. Pro - which unlocked all of the knobs and dials normally found in a GoPro Black camera. Below is as small subset of the pro architecture, this was actually about 5x larger given all the possible states.
Auto upload to the Quik iOS / Android app
Visual and audio hardware feedback
Once the GoPro 11 Mini Black specs hit the usual industry reviewers desks (but not the actual device yet), the reactions were priceless. The overarching interpretation was that this was a device that you set up via the app with profiles and then cycle through those in the field on-camera ;-). Advanced users were pleasantly surprised to see all of the deep settings available on camera in the end however.
I suspect future iterations of the Mini line will include a higher resolution screen, at least one additional hardware affordance, and/or editable capture profiles created and loaded from the phone app.