危 wēi danger
I’ve written about Dropbox before here. The file storing, sharing and syncing service is great, not least because of its simplicity. In fact, I often reference it as an example of a company that did a great job of launching with ‘just enough’. Too often companies kid themselves that they need more features, often to avoid launching (a strange defense mechanism?) or addressing negative feedback. I’m not alone in loving the service, Dropbox now has more than 4 million users and its reach is truly global, as shown by this cool video showing its client activity:
With this success the feature requests came flooding in via email after launch, how would Dropbox ever be able to prioritise the right features?
机 jī opportunity
Dropbox’s solution is Votebox, a section on the website that lets users suggest and vote on what features should be developed next. Votebox retains the simplicity of Dropbox while doing more than a basic forum – it enables users to nominate new features and vote on those that they would benefit from most. Dropbox allocates regular users 6 votes per month and ‘premium’ users 9 votes per month. Votebox also makes clear what the team is working on and celebrates new features launched.
The system is effective because:
- Dropbox only works on the features most beneficial to its users
- It stays true to its premium users (by enabling them to have more votes it ensures that it doesn’t just cater for the needs of the non-paying users)
- It shares what it’s working on, reducing duplication of requests
- The commenting feature enables debate by users, iterating feature ideas
- Finally, it acts as a marketing tool – reflecting the company’s continual development and often referred to by existing users – a quick Google search for ‘Votebox’ shows the number of users trying to drum up votes for their feature request. @Dropbox: why not make this easier and allow people to ‘share’ their requests and votes through social media? Ironically, should I have put this idea on Votebox?
- Remembering to only ever launch with ‘just enough’?
- Creating an intuitive system for users to offer feedback and feature requests? GetSatisfaction (more consumer facing?) or ZenDesk (better as an enterprise solution?) might offer simple solutions
- Assigning importance to different user types?