I’m a daily user of Dropbox and have almost zero complaints about their product which is uncommon since it is free.. Since I download the Dropbox plugin I almost never use the actual dropbox.com website, but when I do I immediately want to cancel my account and go use Microsoft Skydrive instead. Go to the website and see if you notice what I do.
If you didn’t see it immediately go back again and look at the “Sign Up” vs. “Sign In” button. It makes no sense to me why the “Sign Up” button is big, colored and prominent in the center of the page, while the button that I need, “Sign In”, is just colored text underneath. This makes me feel belittled as a user, that I’m somehow less important than non-users (who are presumably looking to sign up). But why is this? The text may be the same size, but the face that “Sign Up” gets this huge blue button makes “Sign Up” seem more important than “Sign In”. Additionally, having “Sign In” positioned directly below “Sign Up” also makes me feel that “Sign In” is above “Sign Up”, literally and figuratively. The overall look and feel of the dropbox.com website, very minimalistic, also helps to bring the “Sign Up” button to the forefront of the user’s attention.
In short I hate the dropbox buttons because they make me (the current user) feel belittled, less important, but did I feel like that the day I visited the dropbox.com website to sign up in the first place? Of course not. That’s because my goal of visiting the website was different than what it is now. This reminded me of a principle from Chapter 1 of Designing with the Mind in Mind labeled “Perception is Biased by Goals”. Since my goal when first visiting the website was to sign up, I’m sure I found the button conveniently easy to find, and was in no way upset by the fact that “Sign In” was displayed less prominently than “Sign Up”. After all why should I? After signing up, however, my goals change. Now what I didn’t even notice, much less find insulting, now makes me want to drop my account and sign up with a competitor!