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Dropbox Gets a Redesign

Dropbox was one of the original cloud storage companies – it certainly led the boom. When Dropbox first hit the scene back in 2008, it soaked up members with ease. It made file sharing a breeze in a way that hadn’t been possible before. Now, nearly ten years later, it seems every big company has their own alternative to offer – OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, and much more.

Dropbox are constantly working on ways to improve their service, but one thing that’s been lacking for a while is in the online interface. While never bad, it was due for a fresh coat of paint. That’s changed now, with the company overhauling their online offering.

The main point of the service is a place to store your files and the online design reflected that. It was a basic list of all your data, with the ability to sort it into folders, alongside some other features. That’s been rethought with this new design. Now Dropbox isn’t just a place for files, but also for people and conversations. There’s much more of a focus on teams.

It makes sense. Although this redesign is available for all users, it’s no little secret that cloud storage firms want to target enterprise users. Besides, those are the ones that bring in the money. Cloud storage to individuals is operating a loss leader.

The navigation of the site has changed so that it’s easier and quicker to share files, leave feedback and see what has changed on the file. You can see when it was modified, who has access to it, along with simple access to basic functions like renaming, moving and deleting. Dropbox knows what it does well, so while the design is simple the functionality is powerful.

Whereas previously all the data was formatted in a list, it can now be browsed with a thumbnail view. This means you can easily see at a glance what the file is, without having to read the name or other metadata. The search has also been improved, giving results across all Dropbox data within moments.

It’s now also much clearer how your account is separated. It’s not unusual to use Dropbox for home and work, but it can be an annoyance to have these two mixed. With a new account switching functionality, users can move back and forth between their personal and work accounts with a few clicks. And you’ll also only get notifications and search results for the account you’re viewing.

Ed Chao, product designer at Dropbox, wrote a blog about the process of the redesign. Chao talks about how it can be difficult to push through a redesign of this scale in a company the size of Dropbox’s, especially if it isn’t on the roadmap. However, their team were persistent and resilient, making their case across teams to build up support.

Chao says that the new design has “simplified navigation, disentangled accounts and unified [Dropbox’s] web interface”, but also that it launched a new design system internally that will help their teams build together more efficiently in the future.


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