FileSender UI & UX: time for a refresh

view the most recent blog post about this project here.

As FileSender users will know, the platform is ship-shape when it comes to performance. What we haven’t paid much attention to however is look and feel. In all honesty, the interface looks a little dated. The FileSender community realised we were underselling a perfectly good product, and so earlier this year we started a project to improve the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). The good people of the NLnet Foundation were willing to help fund part of the journey, for which we are immensely grateful!

We involved a UX expert, Marleen Velthuis, who proposed tackling this journey in a three-phased manner. The first phase, which has been completed at the time of writing, consisted of a research and usage data collecting phase; part of this phase was a broad questionnaire based survey conducted among the users of three large FileSender sites. One of the salient points of the responses was that a good proportion of users indicated that they wanted to be able to more easily initiate a transfer; ideally with just a few clicks. This may well resonate with your own experiences, dear reader.

Subsequently, the results of these questionnaires were carefully sorted into categories of desires and shortcomings, and the various weights of these categories then informed the writing-up of a variety of “User Journey Maps”. A User Journey Map is a visual representation of the path a user takes through the interface, from start to finish, in order to achieve a specific goal while interacting with FileSender. For the interested reader, these User Journey maps are available in SVG format.

This first phase alone has been immensely instructive; just the fact that the majority of users are enthused recurring users was motivating to find out. The outpouring of excellent ideas to improve the interface, too, will not land on deaf ears. This brings us to the next phase, which has started in August; during this phase, Marleen will busy herself with creating a first prototype in wireframes that answer the requirements apparent from the User Journey Maps. This isn’t immediately a fully usable design (indeed, it has no design or art elements and no files can be transferred); instead, the purpose of a wireframe mockup is to allow users to test first-hand the proposed modified user flow through FileSender. And, yes, that implies that we’re soon going to be asking users to evaluate the wireframe mock-ups — we are still looking for volunteers!

And for a look into the remainder of the project: that will be the final, 3rd phase. This is where user feedback is used to refine the wireframes and settle on a final design, and then actually implementing the design into the working code of FileSender — thus generating a prototype that has an entirely refreshed UX & UI. By that stage, we’ll certainly be back with you to look for installation evaluators for the new UX prototype!