As a tool, Dropbox has always encouraged communication and collaboration. It attracts creatives, in particular, to utilise its services to further their work, whether it be sharing ideas through files or providing a platform for conversation via Dropbox Paper. To continue and elevate this work, its new blog, Work in Progress, provides insight into its product updates as well as sharing stories of new creative projects, overall vocalising its unique point of view on work culture.
“Popular culture tends to lionise the notion of productivity these days. Getting more done is idealised as an end unto itself,” says Alex Moore, Dropbox’s global head of content. “You can see it in books and web listicles about ‘productivity hacks’. But the reality is many of us spend a huge amount of time distracted by busywork and interruptions.” And, in turn, he hopes Work in Progress’ perspective will help encourage “a paradigm shift where both the culture of work and the tools we work with help us focus deeply on meaningful work, rather than simply keeping us busy.”
As a result, from the beginning Dropbox’s team wanted “to create a ‘blog’ different from all the corporate blogs you see,” adds interactive designer on Work in Progress, Theresa Ma. “We sought to create a site that inspires people – and not just creatives – to create together.” The possibility of what its new blog could be was endless, leading the team to try as much as possible, both in its design and the content it covers.
Dropbox’s previous blog is one Alex describes as a “content ecosystem” with “disconnected destinations for news, product updates and essays about work culture”. Work in Progress isn’t an entire shift in content from this original iteration, but instead a more “cohesive experience”. This experience involves several linked verticals where Dropbox can “publish company updates and express our point of view on culture and technology in one place”.
Noticing how its users want “a deeper sense of personal fulfilment in their work”, upon visiting the Work in Progress site its menu bar gives viewers several options of content to discover as it looks “to tell interesting stories featuring people across the spectrum.” If you’re interested in Dropbox as a product, its “news” section covers everything from extensions to its fiscal earnings that quarter. If creative working is more your thing, its “work culture” tab features helpful advice-led articles, or, “made in Dropbox” displays what can be achieved by using its services. Just looking for inspiration? Its “featured” section recently published a collection of insightful articles surrounding directors at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. This approach of publishing always has viewers’ thoughts and interests in mind and is inspired by them too as Alex adds: “From our largest enterprise customers to our smallest teams, we see a common thread in the curiosity to solve problems, innovate and bring new projects to life. Whether it’s a skyscraper or a new album, we want to share those moments of discovery along the way.”
But in its new approach to storytelling, Dropbox’s design team also had to decide on the details which would house and enhance its content. “For me, this project felt like the perfect opportunity to push on the boundaries of what we were doing from an interactive design perspective,” explains associate creative director for Dropbox’s interactive work, Davy Rudolph. Working with brand and experience innovation agency Instrument during this process, the teams explored angles such as an “expressive use of type, colour pairing and planes that feels better connected to the brand overall,” continues Davy. “As far as interactive is concerned, I feel like we’re finally starting to fully define the guidelines and expression of the brand on Dropbox.com.”
As previously mentioned, certain colour pairings for alternate articles is an element which instantly jumps out at viewers when visiting the new blog. Choosing “a pretty expansive and expressive colour palette” Davy adds how “some might find it crippling”, but for Dropbox’s in-house design team it allows exciting choice: “I really love the options and ability to use colour to inform hierarchy and importance to whatever we’re designing.” It allows each article to be tailored, for instance assigning a colour pair based “on the dominant colour of its featured image” depending on the article. “When an article doesn’t have a featured image, the author has the ability to select which colour pair they prefer,” and consequently: “This system really gives the artists and authors a lot of creative freedom. The result is a site that feels fresh and new, from article to article,” Davy points out.
Theresa also adds how this doubles up as representing one of Dropbox’s principles of duality. “We thought about our creators and our readers,” she says. “It’s tough to create something both usable and expressive – and it’s always a balancing act.” This also encouraged the designers to allow Work in Progress to feature multiple ranges of image sizes to “inspire curiosity in the reader” as well as a progress bar and a highlight to Tweet function “all the way through discovery and the reading experience”.
With such thought going into the project from content topics to how they’re displayed with an inspiring reader experience always in mind, Davy explains he simply hopes “that whoever visits our site will leave inspired or motivated,” with Theresa adding: “I don’t want to say I hope it provokes them, but I hope it invokes some kind of emotion at least.” Finally, Alex outlines his ambition that readers will gain “an interesting and unexpected perspective on work and the role that technology can play in shaping the ways we work,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Maybe they’ll feel inspired or motivated by seeing how a team is creating. Or, maybe they’ll see a product update and decide they’ve just got have Dropbox.”