Reinventing The File System


About The Project

Overview: Localbox is a desktop based application that redefines the file organizing experience for graduate school professors. Professors deal with with tons of files every day and organizing files has always been a poor experience for them. Phases where users have to recollect where the file is and the process of retrieval creates frustration among the users.

To solve this problem, we designed Localbox that helps the professors in organizing their files in a better and a convenient way.

Discipline: UX/UI Design, User Research, Interaction Design, Prototyping, Project Management

Design Tools: Sketch, Photoshop, Balsamiq, Marvel

Research Methods: Interviews, Observation, User Testing

Duration: Spring 2018, 15 weeks

Design Question

How might we improve the file organizing experience of graduate school professors?

Understanding Users

Interviews And Observations

To understand the problem space and the file organizing experience, we conducted 5 semi-structured interviews with the graduate school professor and observed them while they were using their file systems.

User Journey

Visualizing User’ Experience Through Their Eyes

In order to synthesize the information collected through interviews and observations, we created a user journey map which focused on user’s process of organizing the material right before their lecture.

Research Insights

Identifying The Real Problems

After conducting user research and analyzing the data, the following insights were learned -

  • Physical Work Material = Unhappy Professors
  • The traditional way of organizing documents makes professors unhappy because they think that it is messy and time-consuming.

    "Physical work material is messy." - Participant of User Research

  • Fear Factor: The Lost File
  • With a large number of documents, it is difficult to keep a track of old ones and retrieve them when needed. So professors tend to lose the old files.

    "I forget where I kept what, and then I have to go through everything!" - Participant of User Research

  • Lots of things to keep in mind
  • With so much going on during the semester, it is difficult for the professors to remember everything especially when it comes to recollecting as to where they stored the files.

    "I need to set deadlines, and when to give out the assignments. Lots of stuff to remember." - Participant of User Research

  • Easier sharing with the students
  • In the era of technology, professors want to share all the documents with their students digitally. In order to do that they need a user-friendly interface which makes this process easy for them.

    "I usually put stuff on the school’s cloud, but it is not user friendly." - Participant of User Research

Our Solution

Reinventing The File System

We focused on creating a technically simple product with powerful features that aimed at relieving the user’s pain points. We call it the Localbox. It is a desktop based application that embeds within the user’s operating system. It allows the user to store a large number of complex documents and eases the process of recollection and retrieval.

Localbox is an application that is capable of performing Google-like search through the documents and image contents using OCR. It allows the users to add quick notes to their files and documents. Adding quick notes will help in reminding the users about the necessary information related to their files and documents. We also decided to add tagging of documents which will help the user the easily finding the documents when needed.

Low-Fidelity Prototyping

Ideate! Validate!

To quickly test our concept, we created low-fidelity prototypes that demonstrated key user flows. These prototypes allowed us to brainstorm on main features without expending too many resources. We iterated on our wireframes by conducting guerrilla testing with the prototypes. In total, we conducted 4 user tests with an aim to validate the solution concept, clarity on components, and user efficiency.

Guerrilla testing

We iterated on our prototypes by conducting guerrilla testing with 4 participants. We recruited our school professors for the purpose of this user test. The goal was to test the solution concept, clarity of components, and user efficiency. The participants gave great feedbacks including concerns about edge case scenarios.

"What is this pinned icon for under the folder notes section?” - Participant of Guerrilla testing

“It looks so familiar to the Mac finder, so it is easier for me to understand the interface.” - Participant of Guerrilla testing

“Sharing with students is so easy in this application." - Participant of Guerrilla testing

Visual Design and Prototyping

Seasoned Prototype

We started designing high-fidelity prototypes by creating a style guide for the user interface and determining major screens of the application. We used Sketch for UI design and Marvel for motion design.

Digital Prototype And User Flows

A Fully Functional Model Of Our Solution

User Flows

Scenario 1

Professor wants to view the document information and then add/delete a quick note for the "LIS 651-01" folder.

Scenario 2

Professor wants to share a document with his class group.

Scenario 3

Professor wants to move a file to his downloads folder.

Scenario 4

Professor wants to add a new folder to his file system.



The traditional way of organizing documents has always been a tedious and messy process. We had to design an application that was not only technically advanced but also was streamlined as per our target audience. Professors as a target audience is a very wide user group when it comes to age, tech-savviness, or sometimes resistance to change. Keeping all this in mind, we made sure that our solution is a technically simple product yet simple and addresses all the user problems that we discovered.

If I had more time, I would have designed this application for Microsoft Windows and also for mobile devices. I would have also run additional usability tests and made the app more user-centric and efficient.