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First experience with Box

Box.net is an amazing product and business. I spent some time walking through the process of signing up and then sharing a folder of files with a friend. In a work setting, I would love to run a baseline usability test to see whether first hand what is working well and what is challenging for other folks. This is a sample size of one.

Although I was able to signup and add files, it took me many tries to figure out how to invite and add someone to view my files. The technology seems very powerful, site performs quickly, however there was a bit of confusion and redundancy in the experience, which I think could be updated. Part of this might be the result of the type of account I had (free, individual account.) However, I think the product has an opportunity to easily push me to upgrade if there were features I wanted.

Use case: I heard Box.net is great to share files with friends and coworkers. I wanted to upload a folder and share it with a friend to try out the service.

Here was my experience…

From the home page, it was pretty clear on how to get started. After selecting the personal service (to try it out,) I came to this page.

The form was a nonstandard way of filling out user/passwords, receiving errors as well as communicating password requirements. I received an error on my password not being long enough.

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There could be a clearer way to communicate the error messages without mousing over.

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 4.48.56 PMI viewed the confirm email address box which was clear and the resulting email. I received the email pretty quickly, which was great. There might be an opportunity to have a CS number or link at the bottom of this page.

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After confirming my email, I landed on the Welcome page. Pretty straightforward on what to do next. I am assuming I can start dragging files of any size or type onto this screen to get started.

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Dropped my folder I wanted to share and received this message. Ok, I guess makes sense. I am doing this process from home, but I have a pretty fast internet connection. Let’s see what’s next. I am a little unclear on what will happen if I click Wait. I tried again and received the same message then clicked on the Connection Diagnostics link.

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Diagnostics checks out Ok (I have 12mbps download and 1 mbps upload.) I do like the connection diagnostic feature. So, now a bit confused on what to do next. I would rather retry than talk to customer service at this point.

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I then navigated back to the files screen, and added the files one by one out of the folder. Not ideal.  I then created a folder and moved the files into a new folder.

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Ok, let’s share the folder. I invited my friend (which is my other email address) and received an email with the link.  Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 3.58.49 PM

Email received!

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After clicking on the link, was able to view the files. Success!

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Great! I was able to login and share a folder of files, but there were some challenges and I think areas to improve.

  • Registered a couple of times and received errors. Not sure if others would understand the current error message display. Registration could be simplified.
  • Standardize messaging on forms and throughout the site. There are multiple instances where the same types of messages are shown differently.
  • Increase the prominence of the sharing UI. I image the mental model for a customer is upload then share. The product should follow this model.
  • Proactive messaging around the upload process – what is going on and how to address errors if there are ones
  • Simplification of the same types of UI controls and tasks. Feels like a number of different control types which makes for a visually complex product.

Read next: Sharing and uploading files on Box, a redesign