Improving A File Upload Flow

During my time at Discuss as a Product Designer, I worked on a number of projects involving our B2B product, a market research platform. In this case study, I cover how I improved the user experience of uploading video files into our platform.
Company: Discuss
Role: Product Designer
Tools: Figma
Methods: Wireframing, prototyping
Duration: 4 months (November 2023 - February 2024)
A screenshot of the Discuss research platform showcasing the uploaded state of the newly designed Upload Off-Platform Research section.A screenshot of the Discuss research platform showcasing an in-progress upload of off-platform research. Includes a warning banner at the top with the text "Closing this page will cancel all unfinished uploads. Open the Overview page in a new tab if you want to continue working on your project."A screenshot of the Recordings page within the Discuss platform. Showcases the empty state that appears when no recordings have been added or uploaded to the project yet.A screenshot of expanded Tools & Downloads dropdown menu on the Recordings Page. Includes the newly revised option to "Upload Interview Recordings"

Overview & Problem

Discuss is a B2B market research platform in which users can conduct online surveys and video interviews to learn more about their customers. Users can then analyze data they’ve collected with features such as interactive transcripts, highlight reels, and a generative AI-powered summarization tool.

While a majority of clients begin their projects in Discuss with data collection, some would upload externally conducted research (in the form of video files) into the platform and use it solely for analysis and insights extraction. However, a big limitation of the existing file upload flow was that it allowed for only one file to be uploaded at a time. 

The release of our gen-AI summarization tool—Genie—spiked interest in this “off-platform” research use case, as users could now extract insights, which normally would take weeks of work, in minutes. One client even expressed interest in running a project in which they would be uploading hundreds of videos for Genie to summarize.

Genie had compounded the value of analyzing off-platform research within our platform. As such, we needed to update our file upload experience to accommodate this workflow and the anticipated increase in usage.

The Goal

Redesign our file upload flow to accommodate bulk uploads while also resolving any other identified areas of friction. Doing so will drive clients to purchase or renew their subscription add-on packages for off-platform uploads and Genie, ultimately increasing our Annual Recurring Revenue.

My Role

I started this project on November 2023 as the Design Lead and worked with a Product Manager and an Engineer Lead to deliver our new file upload flow.

I created wireframes and prototypes within Figma, which I frequently presented to the Product and Design teams for feedback and iteration. I would also meet with the Engineer Lead to discuss the feasibility of my designs and anticipated technical constraints, tweaking my work as needed. Once my designs were finalized, I created annotated design documentation for our Engineers to follow as part of the handoff process.

Discovery

To kick off my design process, I reviewed the current off-platform research upload flow and conducted an informal heuristic evaluation using Nielsen Norman's 10 usability heuristics as my guideline. I identified three main heuristics that the flow failed:

1. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

An issue I noticed immediately was that the flow required many clicks to complete. In total, it took 8 clicks to upload a file when starting from the home page of the platform and another 6 clicks to consecutively upload an additional file.

Breakdown of Upload Flow Clicks:

  • 2 clicks to navigate to the Recordings page (where the entry point is located)
  • 5 clicks to select a file to upload
  • 1 click to confirm and begin the upload
User flow diagram of the existing process for uploading off-platform research. The flow is broken up into 3 subsections. The first subsection is titled "Navigate to Recordings page" and consists of 2 steps. The second subsection is titled "Select file to upload" and consists of 5 steps. The third and final subsection is titled "Upload file" and consists of 1 step.
There are a total of 8 steps needed to be taken by the user to upload off-platform research in the original experience.

Flow diagram of the current off-platform research upload experience. Requires 8 steps/clicks from start-to-finish to open the file picker, select a file, and upload it.

2. Visibility of System Status

When a video file is uploaded to Discuss, it must undergo post-processing before it can be viewed. This step often takes more time than the initial upload and there are no progress indicators, leaving users in the dark and causing confusion. This lack of visibility will only become even more of an issue once multiple files can be uploaded at a time.

3. Recognition Rather than Recall

To begin a file upload, users must navigate to the Recordings page, expand a dropdown titled "Tools & Downloads," and then select the upload option from a choice of up to 12 different actions within the dropdown. This method of entry into the upload flow is unfriendly and time-consuming to both new and existing users alike.

Illustration of the steps/clicks required to begin the existing file upload flow (when starting from home page)

Ideation

My first round of designs incorporated a new section on the platform home page dedicated to uploading off-platform research. This also included a target area where users can drag-and-drop files as a quicker alternative to manually selecting files via a Filestack picker.

As for improving the visibility of the system status, I added progress bars for each file that is being post-processed.

1st iteration: Adding a Upload Interview Recordings section with drag & drop upload functionality to the Overview/Home page