Case Study

Palm Tree

Since the pandemic became global in 2020, people are forced to become more digital and find ways to stay connected and safe. Video conferencing applications have been on the rise, with Zoom being the leader with its easy-to-use features. But the video conferencing applications in the market are not built for the needs of today. Enter Palm Tree, a video conferencing app that provides the features customers need to have the best experience possible. Palm Tree puts the controls back into the user’s hands and allows them to customize their experience. Participants are more than just “attending a call,” they are contributing and prepped before they enter the call — no more awkward interactions with others when speaking as our technology will alert you when someone may want to respond. Palm Tree is everything you need from a video app. Relax, and enjoy your chat.

The Basics

Shape / Build Class —
Intro to Product Design


Tanner Christensen, Head of Design at Gem
Jasmine Friedl, Director of Design at Dropbox


6 Weeks


Visual Design (UI), Ideation, User Interviews, User Testing, Market research

01: Understanding

Project Brief

In the COVID era, many more people are doing everyday things remotely. This includes meeting with friends, family and work. Our task was to create a video communication app that fulfilled the user’s video communication needs. Currently, video communication applications on the market all serve its purpose and do an ok job of helping people through these times. But video has become the norm, and users need more than the essential functions of today’s video communication applications provide.

How might I build something that can better serve their needs?


While researching, I found that the best way to define my problem statement is to talk to everyday video app users and find out their thoughts about the applications they are using now and some of their frustrations.

Key takeaways:

- Users are concerned about controlling their meetings and cutting down
on the chaos.
- Users want easy controls that are not hard to find.
- Users find FaceTime is the easiest app to use.
- Users are willing to invest in hardware to enhance their video communication  
- There are too many video apps to download and learn. Every ecosystem has
 its own.
- More education is needed.

User Interview Quotes

“It adds value when I can see everyone on one screen” — Jessica

“Too much chaos and disorder. So many people are playing music, and no one can hear what the other is saying” — Jackie

“I would like to have more features to control things like panel discussions, polling, trivia and message boards” — Julius

“I am tired of reminding people to put themselves on MUTE when they are not talking. Also, I would like privacy when waiting to join a discussion.” — Glenna

“Just make it work and don’t cut me off after 40 minutes” — Donald


Out of the many available use cases, I decided to focus on “Fun time Katelin.”

Fun time Katelin — 32

Goals: Katelin wants to enjoy quality time with friends and family in the comfort of her own home.

Motivations and Values: Katelin doesn’t want COVID to slow her social life down, but wants to follow the rules to ensure everyone’s safety. She values her relationships with work friends, sports team friends and family members. This also allows her to connect with people she cannot regularly see since they live far away from her.

Pain Points: Katelin has so many video applications to choose from that cater to one of her many needs. She also has to think of the family and friends who may not understand certain apps and figure out the easiest one everyone can use.

Problem Statement

In today’s evolving communications landscape, customers want their video calls to be as easy as their phone calls. Users want the control to make their video outputs easily accessible, control over participant totals and how they are viewed, and, most importantly, privacy.

How might I create an app that users can have full control and enhance their video communication experience?
02: Ideation

MoSCoW Method

With so many features, I decided to use the MoSCoW method to prioritize the main features.

User Journey

User Flows

After working on the User Journey, I concluded that there had to be two user flows: The host user flow and the participant user flow. It was challenging to lump the video host and the participant together as they needed entirely different features and functionalities. The host needs particular tools to make sure her experience is comfortable. The participants do not need so many features as they are not controlling the call, only themselves.

Host User Flow

Participant User Flow


The main challenge was that I had many solutions and features. I did not want to share a barebone product that did not address a lot of the user’s needs, but at the same time, I did not want to jam-pack it with so many features in fear that the user may get overwhelmed and confused. Using the MoSCoW method helped me pinpoint the elements needed for launch and what features could be built later. I stuck to the problem statement and used it as my North Star.


With extensive research, I was able to expand my problem statement and added a few goals.

In today’s evolving communications landscape, customers want their video calls to be as easy as their phone calls. Users want control over their video outputs (they want them to be easily accessible), control participant totals (how participants are viewed), and, most importantly, privacy. By creating an onboarding system and a control panel, the user will have the ability to make the experience they want to have. The app will focus on privacy by placing the controls into the user’s hands. The user will be able to choose what is broadcasted, recorded and what is viewed.

How might I create an app that users can have full control and enhance their video communication experience?


03: Design

Mood Board

I started with a mood board for the UI components. I wanted a free-flowing design that would be different from the usual video apps. The layout is a bit unique, and we will be pulling from all of these resources. For example, the yellow image is similar to how I would like to display many video feeds on one page. The yoga image looks like an excellent way to show our initial onboarding — so many things to choose from and should make the design more accessible.

The next step was to create the branding of the app. I started by putting myself in the user’s shoes and thought about how I wanted the user to feel when using the app. I looked at family photos. I loved the earth tones and the way it made me feel when looking at the pictures. I started searching for green colours but ended up with a teal and orange look. It is very popular with lifestyle photographers and videographers. I then added complementary colours, such as pink and purple. My goal is to give the user a sense of calm and assurance while also having fun.

Visual Design

I played around with some of the colours from the images on my mood boards. I settled on teal and orange as my primary colours because of how photographers colour correct their photos in a relaxed and calming way, which fit what I wanted the users to feel while using the app. I also added purple, pink and blue as secondary colours. I selected the “Poppins” font (a google font) because of its versatility and boldness. The icon set comes from Font Awesome because of its wide variety of icons.


From there, I started to work out my branding. I went back to the feeling I wanted the user to experience and thought about the COVID situation and how much I needed a vacation. Oh, to be sitting on a beach, under a tree and sipping Pina Coladas! It hit me. What is more relaxing than sitting on a hammock under a palm tree while sipping Pina Coladas out of a pineapple? Eureka! The name was born. Palm Tree: Video conferencing made easy.

04: Solution

Final Design

For a closer look, click here: Final Design

05: Conclusion

What I learned

  1. This project needs more time for research. All the features are great, but it is essential to get the ones that bring the most value to the customer.

  2. This app does not address the problem of users having too many video applications on their phone. There would need to be more discussion on why a person would use my lesser-known app over something like Apple’s FaceTime or Whatsapp.
  3. Working independently compared to being on a team is an issue. More voices and opinions could have created a better experience. Collaboration with people (designer and non-designers) help create amazing things.


The biggest challenge was that I needed more voices in the room to get ideas and spread the work around evenly. Time was also an issue as this was a project built within a classroom setting. When looking back, I wish I spent more time asking for help during the ideation phase and asked for feedback when creating the features list.

What’s next

I will be re-evaluating my video conferencing app and working on the new features that I can implement. If this is an app that can make business sense, I will pitch it to a developer to build it.