While working at Dropbox in 2016, I lead and managed the File Collaboration design team in San Francisco. I was responsible for working with other File Collaboration leads (Product and Engineering) to help the teams within File Collaboration to strategize and execute on a product plan that supports Dropbox’s broader initiatives. One of those initiatives was to redefine how sharing files works on Dropbox, the biggest project I worked on during my Dropbox tenure.
You might not know it but Dropbox’s sharing feature was very broken. There are over 1 billion files shared on Dropbox ever week so fixing up the fundamentals was critical for the business. I worked on unifying sharing concepts across Dropbox surfaces including shipping to Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
The old sharing experience is captured below. Users were presented with a binary choice when sharing a folder (invite or copy link). If you wanted to invite a user you would proceed to the modal views with further options. This seems harmless on the surface but the complexity hidden behind a lot of these choices lead to a lot of user confusion.
The UI wasn’t correctly representing what users were expecting to happening. The sharing link flow was also a security concern for a lot of business because there was no way to know who was accessing your files from a link, or how many links had been created (a member of the folder can create their own link and would not know if someone else had created a link to the folder—see, it’s confusing).
While I was working on this project, Dropbox Paper was close to launching. Dropbox Paper had their own sharing component which had incorporated improvements that my team should adopt. We set out to align as closely with Paper as possible so that customers would easily move between Dropbox products and not have to re-learn how to use them.