Canon Irista


Irista is Canon’s cloud-photography platform. It keeps all your photos and videos together – in one safe place – and makes them accessible to view, print and share.


I lead design in a team focused on using computer vision to make Irista smarter and better. 

We aim to help users with four jobs:

  • Organise – make your photos easier to find and explore.

  • Find – find a specific photo or a set of photos.
  • Explore – explore photos with intent, either to reminisce or for a specific purpose.
  • Discover – passively discover photos you might otherwise overlook.
Camera technology is constantly improving and becoming more accessible. People are taking more and more photos – more than they can manage. As your photo collection grows these jobs get harder.



Irista is designed to support the needs of hobbyist photographers and people who own Canon cameras. Naturally I wanted to build an understanding of our users and their needs.

We don’t work with dedicated researchers so I’m responsible for all of the research activity related to my product area. 

I started the project by looking at three data sources:

  1. One-to-one interviews with hobbyist photographers
  2. A customer survey
  3. Our customer feedback channel (and by doing a bit customer support myself)

For the interviews, I developed a discussion guide to explore:

  • Interest in photography
  • Storage needs
  • Viewing behaviour
  • Organisation and finding strategies

I cross-referenced what I learned from interview participants with information from existing users, though an online survey sent out to a sample of the user base.

The survey asked about 

  • Photography skill level
  • The types of camera used   
  • What people took photos of
  • Mental models for organising their photos

Survey question: “What do you take photos of?”

Survey question: “What tags do you tend to use?”

These are word clouds I produced based on survey answers.

Pretty much everyone I spoke to in the interviews organised their photos in terms of date, location and the people in the photos. This result was supported by the survey.

At the time there was no straightforward way to find photos based on these categories. So the research helped make the case for developing features that would make this easier.


A new timeline...

Irista shows all of your photos in a date-ordered list: the  timeline.

In the existing design, your photos are cropped so that they can be displayed as squares in a grid layout. But user research tells us users want to see photos in their original aspect ratio – they shouldn't be forced to click on each photo to see it properly.

The prototype below shows proposed improvements to the design and usability of the timeline.


On the app, I designed a layout system more suitable for narrow screens.



Recently, I've been investigating how we should handle detecting and recognising faces...



In the year since I joined the Irista product team we've seen our user base more than double to over 900,000 registered users.