We talked with Design Researcher, Meghan Earley, about how Dropbox met user needs by going beyond standard usability testing—leveraging video and diary studies to look longitudinally. As a result, they gained more confidence in their issue reports and saw increased investment from their stakeholders.
People use Dropbox in browser to host and share files—relegating it to more passive, background usage. So when the company began development of their new desktop app, they strived to create a single workspace for users to organize their content, connect their tools, and bring their teammates together.
But when you build a product for more flexible and frequent usage—you have to be sure that it’ll work as intended. And to be confident that it’ll work as intended, the insights that you need are often more extensive than what you could glean from a typical usability test.
And so, she turned to dscout.
“I looked at dscout because we wanted to do a longitudinal study,” she says. “It was the first time we had people using the product outside of interviewing and concept testing. So we really wanted to get a sense for their day-to-day: How are they interacting with this app, and what are their attitudes towards it?”
“We were hoping to get some in-context feedback; we needed participants to submit surveys in the moment they were doing things. That made a major impact in our attempts to understand what the real issues were.”
The Dropbox study took four weeks total—longer than most. However, the length was necessary for the type of insights Dropbox was looking for, as well as the product they wanted to release.
“We kept it pretty open-ended in the beginning,” Meghan says, “We didn't want people to feel like they were doing something right or wrong. We really just wanted to be a fly on the wall and understand what was going on.”
The second half of the study was more straightforward. Participants were sent specific survey-like questions asking about different parts of the product. And as the study concluded, Meghan conducted a Live mission—pulling specific users in for 1:1 interviews about their experience.
“The interviews were nice because we already had so much context,” Meghan says. “They were really efficient. You can get straight to the heart of things after having heard from this person on dscout for the past four weeks.”
Leaning on dscout’s platform, Dropbox was able to conduct a longer study and expanded the breadth of their insights as a result.
“dscout offered us a complete understanding,” Meghan says. “Usability problems are glaringly important from an evaluative perspective. In a typical usability test, we'll see someone encounter something once over the course of an interview. But when we're seeing people encountering things over and over, it's definitely a signal that they're more important.”
This allowed Dropbox to address those issues, and address areas in which they could really impact their users’ needs.
“We identified some key problems pertaining to the new functionality that we're adding. We're adding features to help people collaborate and work with each other better. And there were some pretty key blockers to people being able to do that.”
“So identifying that has informed our design direction and understanding what we need to do in order to help people collaborate more in Dropbox.”