The old links offer limited functionality and are not scalable for modern collaboration tools like Dropbox Paper, Google Docs, and Microsoft 360.
As the lead designer on this project, my responsibilities included identifying and keeping the key stakeholders informed about design decisions. As an individual contributor, I helped concept testing the model along with execution.
The sharer expects a quick and frictionless sharing experience. The recipient wants to retrieve the content easily. And the organization wants visibility and control over the material that's being shared.
The modern document editors like Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, and Microsoft Office 365 make collaboration smooth. They offer capabilities like editing the source file and versioning, which are challenging for certain file types, e.g., JPG and Photoshop files.
The old model was built in 2012 for sharing photos and traditional files. The share links were designed for viewing only. A single file had multiple links associated with it, making it challenging to manage permissions and monitor its distribution. If the sharer left the organization, it broke the link. The recipient couldn't access the file and was often left clueless as to why.
In addition to this, the recipient could not promptly contact the sharer.
The new link model is designed by keeping cloud content in mind. In this model, the links are associated with the content and not with the sharer. This fundamental shift solved many problems inherent in the old link model.
The new model removes friction for the recipient as the link always works unless explicitly turned off by the sharer. It makes integration with third-party applications simpler, faster, and more secure(how?). Monitoring the distribution of content is also much easier with the new link model.
The concept test helped us to identify any gaps and design the north star experience. As the next step, we worked with engineering and product to evaluate the impact of the desired solution and work backward to create the roadmap.
The near term solution tried to minimize the learning curve. The information layout and the interaction for creating and copying links were consistent across these two link models. Advanced actions like managing audiences and deleting links were deliberately different.