In May, we launched the beta version of our new creative collaboration service, Hightail Spaces. We now have thousands of Spaces users actively sharing files, adding comments and updating versions every week. These early adopters have been a great source of feedback and we’ve just released a new beta version of Hightail Spaces that responds to many of their suggestions.
Putting content front and center
We initially designed Hightail Spaces to ease the transition from our traditional “send”-focused service to a more collaborative experience. On signing in to Spaces, users were faced with a relatively blank screen that prompted you to upload files, as you would have with a traditional file sharing service.
However, many people were quick to suggest that the content they had already uploaded should be the focal point of the experience. This feedback aligned with our post-transitional vision for the product, so we were more than happy to implement it sooner than expected. The latest release of Hightail Spaces introduces a significant change to the user experience and leads with a dashboard of Spaces – the groups of files already uploaded, shared and commented on.
Hightail Spaces is a place where active projects live and evolve. New features, like guiding feedback by adding goals to a Space, branding a Space with name and background image and the ability to see who created and who follows a Space, build on this idea.
Collaboration not file sharing
This rapid shift in people’s mental models surprised us. Though a content-centric way of working has been our aim, we had assumed it would take longer for people to adjust to an interface that moved away from the files and folders of computing’s traditional desktop metaphor. We had also assumed that initially Hightail’s existing customer base would be more interested in Spaces’ improved file sharing experience than its collaboration features. The comments we received show that this is not the case.
In fact, all of our feedback has been about the service’s collaboration features, like comments and versions. Even sharing features like the ability to share files of any size have drawn little comment. Our users have quickly understood and started to use Spaces as a collaboration tool.
To check out the newest beta release of Hightail Spaces, simply go to www.hightailspaces.com. As ever, we want you to tell us what our next release should be like so send your comments and suggestions to us here.