Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.
In other words, an organization’s output (be it products, services, or experiences) betrays how that organization communicates. This is most apparent in “multi-slash” products with multiple functions such as a scanner/copier/printer, microwave/convection oven/grill or rapper/dentist.
Can’t attest to his dentistry skills, but his rhymes are fresh like waxed mint floss.
What usually happens is that, to aid efficiency, multiple groups are tasked with developing different features in parallel before the parts are forced together into one product, like my two-year-old daughter doing a jigsaw puzzle. The company wins by getting to market sooner. The customer generally loses when the overall product breaks down at the seams of the slashes, like the VCR/DVD combo I once owned that had two separate clocks.
The company formerly known as YouSendIt became a victim of Conway’s Law. What began as an incredibly smart single solution to the problem of sending large files later had other features bolted on without due consideration for how they integrated and interacted with each other. All of our products felt like different companies created them, from a feature’s overall approach to its visual and interaction design.
This is entirely understandable: the company is almost a decade old and many of the original designers and engineers had moved on leaving others to try and expand the service without disturbing its raison d’etre. When I took over the company’s product organization a year ago, I understood that new features like sharing folders and signing documents were incredibly useful, but I also recognized that they were designed as feature islands with no consideration given to the overall user experience.
Changing this would require a fundamental shift in how we, as a company, communicated, how we dealt with Conway’s Law to create more useful, delightful and indispensible experiences.
One of the first changes I made was to unify the myriad design organizations within the company and give this group oversight for all product experiences. This created a single channel of cross-product communication specifically aimed at addressing Conway’s Law. It also helped that I was lucky enough to hire some of the finest designers that I’ve ever worked with (and I want more — we’re hiring!).
YouSendIt becoming Hightail is a marker that represents all the things we’ve already done to start the process of reimagining our service. Our new brand also comes with significant product enhancements that indicate where Hightail is headed.
Our redesigned and rebranded mobile apps recognize the fact that, according to a recent Gartner report , 60% of professionals use a mobile device during their working day (presumably to actually work and not just tweet a picture of their lunch). Whether you’re an iPhone, Android, or iPad user, the new Hightail apps ensure you can still get things done when you’re on the move.
Take the Hightail iOS app for iPhone and iPad. It gives you easy access to your files, lets you share folders with anyone and even sign documents using your touch screen. If you want to make sure your client has seen a crucial file before you board that flight, our tracking feature shows exactly when it happened. Plus, you can do all of this securely with single sign-on capabilities for enterprise account users.
For our web experience, we’re introducing a beautiful way to preview files as part of an overall rethink about how your colleague or client receives your work. This is a huge priority for us because the tools you choose to use can affect how the people you work with perceive you. A smart and stylish recipient experience lets a professional share their work with Hightail knowing that it will make them look good.
These new experiences lay the groundwork for the truly game-changing ideas we’re cooking up in our top-secret labs, while the fresh start that Hightail provides enables everyone — from employees to users — to rethink and understand our service in a new light.
Despite all this change, we remain the company that you’ve trusted to share and store your most important files for almost a decade. We just have a new name and a renewed commitment to help you keep your ideas moving.