UX Design and Strategy

WD My Cloud Onboarding

ecosystem design experience for personal cloud drive, 12 months

WD My Cloud Onboarding



Upon joining the Western Digital, I was asked to redesign the out-of-box experience for the consumer end of the WD My Cloud product line. At the time sales were lower than expected. Customer reviews described frustration with the setup process, and that the overall product line did not fulfill the promise of the “personal cloud”. 


My Role

• Led UX Design for out-of-box experience including web setup and all ecosystem touch points

• Worked closely with mobile designer to ensure consistency in setup experience across mobile apps

• Stewarded design vision through cross-functional teams including front and back-end development, marketing, customer service, and manufacturing

• Content Design & Visual Design of printed setup guide


Discovery Phase

I conducted several types of research during the discovery phase including user review analysis, auto-ethnographic diary study, and extensive competitive analysis. I thoroughly researched existing cloud and NAS services, comparing their setup processes, UI language, and features.


Competitive analysis

Competitive Analysis.png


One of my primary insights was that the product experience was not aligning with customers' expectations for a "personal cloud". This was partially due to the shifting expectations of cloud services in general, but also because the hardware and software hadn't caught up to the marketing message. The company was selling a personal cloud, but the product team was still building the same old NAS (network attached storage) drive. It was evident in both the language of the UI, and in how the team spoke internally about the product and its intended users.



To make the NAS experience better fit the needs of our consumer persona, there were three fundamental tasks that had to simplified:

1. Get the hardware set up and connected.

2. Introduce the user to the personal cloud functionality.

3. Help the user migrate their existing data to their personal cloud.

This was simple to describe, but tricky to do well due to the technology constraints and a surprising amount of internal resistance.



I spent a great deal of time educating the product org about the missed opportunities incurred by insisting upon the hardware status quo instead of the new value proposition outlined in the marketing push. Here is one of my (in)famous slides I frequently used to prompt the required change in language and philosophy.


As the UX team was focused on delivering more consumer-oriented experiences, it was important to illuminate the new possibilities and get the product org excited.  

We created a design room where we posted all our research, designs and storyboards. We invited everyone to add notes, and wmet twice a week to review designs and allow everyone to critique. We used storyboards supplemented with UI concepts to gain buy-in from the product org.


Samples of design boards from design room

design board.png


samples from Storyboard & UI Concepts


Customer Survey

We also conducted a customer survey to better understand how what digital content was most important to our target persona, and what their digital storage habits and preferences were. Some of the main takeaways that informed my design were that the target persona:

• Often served as the "family photographer" and content organizer.

• Would be setting up the personal cloud themselves and performing "admin" tasks despite not being a highly technical person.

• Wanted to simply and quickly move hundreds of gigabytes of content from old drives or computers.

• Had concerns about reliability and privacy when using cloud storage.


Samples from Customer Survey


The Printed Setup Guide

The setup guide was the first thing customers saw when unboxing the product, and it had some glaring flaws. It was unnecessarily complex, making the product seem more complicated than it was. The content was overly reliant on text that when translated used up twice as much paper. This proved very costly when manufacturing hundreds of thousands of units.

Making changes to this guide was one of the more difficult challenges I faced, as it represented a change to the manufacturing process and involved marketing, support, and many other internal stakeholders.


Setup Guide Before


What was originally an ultra-pragmatic, technical setup guide was redesigned as a simple greeting and guide that reinforced the brand identity. The instructions were greatly simplified, focusing on a single setup path. I created a visual composition that didn't rely on text, eliminating the need for multiple language translations. The smaller form factor also allowed us to use a better quality paper while decreasing the overall cost of printing. 

This redesign of the printed setup guide eventually became the standard style for the entire line of My Cloud products.

Setup Guide After

qig after.png

UI Design & Testing

After much collaboration, internal critique, and iteration I honed the UI design to focus on "quick wins" for easy setup of the hardware, as well as a simplified “getting started” experience to introduce users to the full My Cloud app ecosystem.

For testing, I created a "real-world" setup of a living room where users came in, unboxed the My Cloud, set up the hardware, and went through the entire software setup experience complete with mobile installation and data migration. 


Click-through prototype



This redesign decreased the complexity of the cloud setup and better matched the expectations set by the "personal cloud" message of the WD My Cloud. When the product hit the shelves and the reviews started coming in, long gone were the negative comments denouncing the product as "just a glorified NAS with difficult setup" that was "not a cloud replacement".

Instead, the feedback about the out-of-box experience was full of quotes like these:

"I wanted a simple wireless / network backup solution for 2 Mac laptops. On reading some of the negative reviews, I was a little nervous about setup, but I can't believe how incredibly easy this was – it was even easier than setting up my iPhone!"


"Setup was amazingly smooth."


"Easy setup, just took a few minutes...not complicated."


"Upon arrival it took about 10 minutes to set up and now I have my own cloud."


While I was the design lead for the entire project, I collaborated with many great folks along the way. Fellow UX Designers Burr Walker, Neeresh Padmanabhan, and Morgan Russell all helped with feedback, brainstorming, and storyboarding. UX Developer Dean Ashworth helped build the prototype during user testing. UX Researcher Raja Bell helped me put together user surveys and usability testing sessions. Visual Designers Marianne Carmona, Rachel Donne, and Ofir Levy all contributed visual concepts and style guides for the final UI.