Helping users organize content across storage devices
Wireframing + Prototyping
Western Digital is a company that sells multiple data storage solutions. They began building EdgeRover, a product that indexes and searches across multiple storage sources such as hard drives, cloud, flash drives, etc.
As an interaction designer, I was asked to research pain-points and opportunities in this problem space and design a shippable solution after rigorous wireframing, testing, etc.
"Find and solve product opportunities problems our users have when managing files across multiple devices."
Design process overview
Defining the problem
I conducted 4 semi-structured interviews with owners of multiple storage products - here are the abbreviated findings.
Users feel paralyzed by the number of
"junk" files that they've accumulated.
Users are wary of auto-cleaning software, and want to review each file deletion
Users want to view the file's context (in the folder) prior to deciding to delete it
Narrowing "junk files" scope with stakeholders
Decision: focus on just duplicate files
The two other designers would take on the search/browse functionality of EdgeRover. I was the main designer of the duplicates cleaner, with help and review from other designers, PM, etc.
Complexity of problem
At this point, I wasn’t quite sure how to resolve the tension between:
Users wanting to review all cleaning suggestions
Users wanting this to not feel like an overwhelming chore
How might we support users in accurately cleaning duplicates in a manner that is not daunting and paralyzing?
Approachable, Trustworthy, Satisfying
Many of the competitors tend to be utilitarian and overwhelmingly complex - not exactly making the task feel any less daunting!
Things they did well
Side-by-side image comparison for easy verification of duplicates
2 column layout provides both a micro/macro overview of duplicates, which grounds the user in where they are in the overall process
Representing a set of duplicates as a single group helps reduce visual/cognitive load
Initial concept design
After reviewing some possible directions during design crit with the other designers, I decided to push forward with a cleaning 'widget' that would reside at the top of the home page and offer suggestions periodically.
Goal: make cleaning feel bite-sized, instead of like a monumental chore
Dynamic, periodic cleaning widget
Since EdgeRover is a tool used to search across multiple data sources, I assumed users would most likely open the tool when needing to find a file. Rather than asking users to clean up all of their duplicates at once, I tried piggyback-ing on this primary use case to surface small steps over time.
While still at the low fidelity stage, there were several considerations and questions I explored through conceptual wireframes:
How should duplicates be portrayed - grouped together, or listed separately? How many is too many?
Does it feel more approachable if we treat duplicates as "tiles" to be cleared?
Are there ways to improve suggestion accuracy?
How can we celebrate wins?
Can animations help make cleaning feel more satisfying?
Creating two prototypes A and B
I moved onto two prototypes to test some assumptions related to the questions above. I decided on using individuals "cards" to display a single set of duplicates.
The biggest difference in the two prototypes lay in the card format themselves, such as amount of meta data, how you dismiss a card, the terms "manage" a file versus "delete" a file, etc.
Both versions included a way to open the source folder, because of the earlier finding that indicated users understand a file by its context
Version A (in video)
Usability testing findings
"Does X mean delete or dismiss?"
Users were very hesitant around language or iconography that was too ambiguous.
"This is good, I want to verify the modified date for both files."
A limited amount of meta data is best to build a sense of trust
"I'm not going to press delete - that worries me a bit. How will I know it was actually deleted?"
Users still trusted deleting their files through their their native file explorer rather than through EdgeRover. Therefore, version A was preferred.
I conducted 10 unmoderated sessions through Usertesting.com. Below are some of the common findings.
Cleaning felt satisfying!
Seeing each file disappear off of their screen along with how much space was saved gave users a high sense of satisfaction.
Okay, so initially the concept seemed to be resonating overall - however, listening to the users made me realize that the original, assumed user flow was flawed.
A fundamentally flawed assumption in the user flow was revealed by testing
Users described their current cleaning habits as cyclical, where they would put off cleaning until they hit a stress trigger caused something like not being able to find a file in their clutter.
This "stress trigger" is when they would most likely use Edgerover to locate the file. Thus, they would already be at a point where their device organization had become chaotic, so a mini-cleanup widget would feel insufficient.
Moment most likely to use EdgeRover
Rather than making the task feel bite-sized, we should focus on a deep cleaning process that feels supportive at the moment they are most likely to use EdgeRover.
How might we decrease effort and anxiety around cleaning duplicates when users engage in a deep clean?
Revisiting the user flow
This time, let's revise the user flow to start with the trigger for the deep clean.
Revised goal: Make deep cleaning approachable
High-level design decision
Utilize a two column approach found in the competitive analysis. I chose this layout because I wanted to provide the user with an overview of all of their duplicates on one side with an adjacent preview on the other, thus creating an easy visual relationship and doesn't open a separate window which might increase cognitive load.
For testing purposes, I created two variations. Version 1 visualized the groups of duplicate files as clustered tiles that give the user a quick understanding of which sets were most problematically duplicated. When a line item is selected, the right column displays multiple previews.
Version 2 visualized the duplicate files on individual lines, but stacked into sections in the left column. When a line item was selected, it showed more meta data in the preview panel on the right than in Version 1.
Testing results - Version 1 wins!
Users slightly preferred version 1 in terms of approachability, and greatly preferred it in terms of satisfaction/fun, which were both design principles set forth in the beginning.
I also tested the FTUE for figuring out what folders we needed to look in for duplicates.
I was happy because during testing, users (unprompted) would ask questions like "When is this coming out?" or "I needed this like starting 4 years ago." I felt really pleased that we had accurately identified a user need and was on the right path to solving it.
Ready to ship
Applying the design system & creating specs
There was a developed design system in place by other designers, so I applied the same treatments to my design. I spec'd out the behavior of the components for the developers.
The product entered open beta in the winter of 2020, and is currently available for download online.