Design for Curation

Last week Dropbox launched a new gallery app called Carousel. It's a focused app, only letting people view their photos stored on Dropbox1 and conveniently share them. There are a few interesting parts in the app but there is one piece I’d like to highlight: Swipe down to hide.

This gesture doesn't delete your photo, it simply removes it from the gallery view. It's not a heavy action. There's no cognitive overhead, no thinking "wait, do I want this shot?" as there generally is when deleting items.

View screenshots

Swiping down to hide less-than-stellar photos is as satisfying as crossing something off your to-do list. It's the only curation tool you need for a stark gallery app. I effortlessly turned my heap of mobile phone photos and videos into a meaningful digital library that I found myself casually browsing over the past few days.

And that seems to be the point of Carousel. Make it easy for me to see the value of curating an easily digestible and shareable gallery and I may use Dropbox to store even more of my photos.

Now you're thinking "but Paul, this is nothing new!" Agreed. That's why this post isn't about Carousel.

As designers we love to focus on simplifying interfaces. We clasp Dieter Rams' 10 principles. But what about decluttering and crafting something useful with the content that lives inside these interfaces? Craig Mod suggests content for readers should fit the experience, not the other way around. What if you extend that thought to content created by the user, not just content consumed by them?

You can turn bulk, typically fleeting data into a moment, a story, a timeline, a canon of the user's own digital personal effects. Whatever it may be, help your users make it their own. Wherever your users create, let them curate. Otherwise your app's value may be fleeting instead.

About a year ago I began putting more time into my photoblog. I wanted to use it as a base to share my travel experiences. The goal was — and I haven't gotten there yet — to also use video, location, weather, audio and other Feltron-like statistics from each trip to tell my story. What ended up happening is I created something meaningful largely just for myself, something I'll revisit.

Where else can this be done?

1 More or less your phone's camera roll if you have “Camera Upload” enabled

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"Design for Curation" by @Stammy

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