UX Case Study : File Management on WhatsApp
WhatsApp is an application that is used by basically everyone in the world as a means of communication, in the current times due to ease of use and the global pandemic, it has also been used as a conferencing tool and also as a means of sharing documents and files across the world.
As a means of sharing files, people tend to send documents to each other as well as multiple recipients and these documents may have large or small file sizes. Although there is a maximum file size that can be sent through WhatsApp, an accumulation of these small files can take up a huge amount of space thereby increasing the storage space WhatsApp consumes on our devices. This case study is aimed to create a way for one to easily manage documents and media sent through WhatsApp over time so the app doesn’t consume much space on our devices.
WhatsApp consumes a good amount of space on our devices and this is mostly due to the media files and documents that are sent and which we download. How do we go about freeing up the space these files take without going through the hassle of opening each private chat and group chats, and selecting these images, videos and documents individually before deleting them.
The everyday WhatsApp user with emphasis on people having phones with limited memory space
I worked alone on this project and so served as both the Researcher and the UI Designer
Challenges to success
Finding a convenient way to fit all the necessary information on the screen without distorting the regular WhatsApp feel a user would normally expect while using the app.
I checked if WhatsApp already handled this and if they did, how did they go about it. I also had to find out how long WhatsApp media and documents can date back to, if a user can see messages and media files from over a year ago from groups and private messages. This was because I wanted to know how to design a date picker for such a situation, because if it is possible for one to have media and documents files from over a year ago, then these files also consume space and one should be able to delete files from that time.
I got to know that WhatsApp, under the Storage and Data section in the settings screen had a section called manage storage. Here they had three sections with each section having the total size of the files in it, Media higher than 5mb, Forwarded many times and then Chats. This still doesn’t solve the problem as it doesn’t give the user access to media files from a long time ago and it also didn’t have a section for documents.I also found out that whatsapp messages go as far back as when the user got installed the app on their devices and also when they last backed up (for a user with a new device) . This goes to mean that if a user has regularly been backing up his/her WhatsApp messages, media and documents, he/she can see content from over a year ago.
A section on the WhatsApp settings screen that grants users access to media files and documents downloaded over time and easily manage these files.
While working on this project, I decided to maintain the WhatsApp feel around my design by following their design pattern so users don’t get the feeling they are in a different place.
I started the redesign by adding a media and docs section to the settings screen. Looking at the settings screen, its content is separated into groups, so i checked which group the media and docs section would fit in the most and so added it to the second group containing Account, Chat, Notifications, Storage and Data, below Account
On the media and docs screen by the left of the selection tab, I added a date picker to help users select which year they would like to view its media and documents. I decided to make the selection by year, so when a particular year is selected, the content is displayed on the screen and grouped by their different months from january to december.
When the media and docs section is opened and a particular tab is selected, at the bottom of the screen it shows the total space consumed by the files in that particular year selected. This is important so as to help the user see the amount of space these files are taking and helps drive their decision when deleting these files to free up space on their devices.
When in selection mode two things happen.
- On the bottom of the screen, you get to see the size of the selected files with respect to the total size of the files in the selected year. This helps to guide the users decision when deleting files as they could be a situation where the user needs to free up a particular amount of space.
- By the top left of the screen, there is a “select all” option. This is because there may be a situation where a user could scan through the files in a particular year and see that he/she has no need for the files any more ( like files from over a year ago ) and wishes to delete these files; selecting files from the twelve months in year one after the other would be really stressful so I decided to put in the select all option to ease this process.
This project was really a fun one for me as it tries to solve a problem I encountered on my own while using WhatsApp and having a reason to free more space on my device. I believe this process helps to solve the problem of file management on WhatsApp as it gives a clear path for one to manage files from different periods of time easily and in a few clicks, helping us free up the space media and document files take on WhatsApp and ultimately helping us free up the space WhatsApp consumed in our devices.
Shout-out to Njoku Godson who helped review this work ( as it’s my first case study yet :) )