A better upload experience

Photobox - 2012

Uploading photos is boring.
At Photobox, every user has to go through this process at least once.

And one of the main questions that we try to address is: How can we take care of the boring tasks in order to let the user focus on the creative and fun parts?
This question is clearly at the core of the upload step.

The former solution

The first thing to know is that there is a lot of ways to upload photos on Photobox. You can upload photos one by one, by bulk, upload them in one of the creation tools, or by FTP,... and all these solutions took very different design directions.

There is clearly a consistency issue. Why do we need all these different methods?
If we are not able to answer this question, how can we expect users to choose confidently between those different solutions and to know which one will better suit their needs?
If we decide that many different methods are required (for good reasons, for instance because we think that the way we upload only one photo is really different from the way we upload multiple photos), is there any reason why those methods use a different copy, a different user flow, or different interactions?

Another important point is the lack of feedback during the process. Users do not know anything about the remaining time, or the state of individual photos,... it is not even clear where the photos will be uploaded.

Uploading photos lack of feedback
Here some photos are being "preloaded" but I do not have any idea on how much time I will have to wait... do I need to stay in front of my screen?

Finally, the last issue is that it is incredibly hard!
It is hard to understand the difference between photobox albums (the place where photos are stored to be used in any creation) and the creation selection (the place where we keep photos that will be used in this specific creation). The concept of albums can be hard to understand (most of people want to create only one product and do not even think that their photos will be stored), but the idea of selection might be even worst: why should I need to define a selection of photos when I can upload or use any photo from my computer?

Design proposal

First, let me quickly talk about the main design directions:

We also tried to keep or even to improve good things from the existing solution:

A simple library

In this design proposal, the user starts directly in the creation tool. No more "upload and organise" screen, no more creation selection. No more unnecessary step.

In the creation tools, the photos selection was displayed in a kind of library at the bottom of the page. This area is useful, even if we do not have a creation selection anymore, we still need photos to create our products. So everything is now handled from this place.

Photos library
The library area at the bottom of this screen is now the place where we handle everything related to photos.

Here you can access all the albums (including albums from other providers) and simply drag and drop photos in your creation. We've also created some sorts of "meta albums" that are just virtual categories of related photos: "All the photo used in my creation", "The last uploaded photos", "Photos of people", "Landscapes",....

Provider filter
Here is a simple version of the dropdown that allows users to change the photo provider.

At any time, the user is able to upload more photos from its computer, either by drag and droping one or several photos directly in the library area, or by clicking on the "Get more photos" button that will simply open the operating system window. The user will not have to leave the creation step anymore in order to add photos.
Photos are uploaded in the album that is currently selected in the library. However, if this album is not a photobox album (for instance if it is a Facebook album), we display an alert box that ask the user to choose a destination album for these photos. By default, a kind of "session album" is created but the user can access any other album.

We only ask to choose a destination album when it's really necessary.
This window suggests to create a default session album, but the user can still access any other album.

When photos are being uploaded, we display a small notification that informs the user on the remaining time. At this step, the user can still upload more photos (they will simply be added to the queue), use any photo in its creation, or browse another album (the notification will remain).

The uploading state of the library
Some photos are being uploaded. I can see the remaining time. We also show individual progress bars and thumbnail placeholders.

Don't hesitate to have a look at other case studies.