When we started building WeTransfer for mobile, we just wanted people to be able to share more. We built something similar to the desktop version of WeTransfer and people were using it and loving it. That version did one thing well (in true WeTransfer style) but it wasn’t the best use of the mobile platform.
Meanwhile, mobile was eating the world. People were using it more and more to create. We felt we could step up our game, so we set out to build something future-proof.
Almost every app today is built to distract you, to lock you in and to dominate your attention. We wanted to build something that would help creatives without trying to trick or trap them. We understood the platform was different, and so we had to solve a different kind of problem. But that problem had to be as painful as sending large files used to be on desktop back in 2009 when we launched WeTransfer.
You can’t solve a problem without knowing your users.
So we hit the road and spoke to a lot of creatives to see what their workflow looked like, and what kind of problems they ran into. We found they were making and finding beautiful things on their phones, but they struggled with where to keep all this great content. They had tons of screenshots, weird notes filled with links, and they even texted themselves as a way to save interesting stuff. All their content was scattered in different places, making it hard to find, let alone share.
We imagined a new way to save, keep and share great stuff on mobile. It had to work with any kind of content — from links to files to pictures — and it had to be super simple to save from any app using its share-sheet. And it should be really visual because that’s how communication on mobile is.
We knew not everyone would welcome this change: some people loved the single-use tool that we had. But as with a new haircut, at first you know that people will hate it, but, over time, if it’s good, people will grow to love it. You just have to take that leap.
But when we shipped the update in October 2017, the negative reviews rolled in and our App Store rating tanked. It was difficult to see those responses on something we had put so much hard work into, but we knew if we were onto something, we’d see signs sooner or later.
Listening to our users helped us understand that we had broken a key flow for some of them. Sometimes people just want to send a couple of files and the app made that much more complex than it needed to be. So we built that feature and made it possible to use the transfer service people know and love from wetransfer.com on their phones.
But, luckily, we also got positive signals. We saw that we were onto something. In just nine months, our user base grew to more than four million people, who saved tens of millions of things. This made us realize that we had to double down on collecting.
We believe that collecting is our future as it’s so critical to creative thinking. In order to fully deliver on it, we need to tell our story better. A lot of our users weren’t happy with our product, because we didn’t properly communicate what we’d designed it for. The app was still called WeTransfer, but it was doing something different from the web product, and that led to unpleasant surprises.
That’s why today, we’re renaming the product Collect by WeTransfer. It underlines that the app is built for collecting ideas together. It’s built for saving all the media you come across and work with on your phone — whether that’s an article you find interesting or a set of pictures you took on your latest trip.
What really makes collecting fly is collaboration. The creative process doesn’t happen in a silo, and collaboration is often the key to great work. That’s why we’re very excited about introducing the ability to work on a board with multiple people. This took time to get right because WeTransfer is loved for its simplicity. And so our challenge was to make it dead easy to collaborate and make it beautifully obvious at the same time.
As always when it comes to WeTransfer, it’s super flexible. You can create and collaborate on a board with your favorite recipes, ideas for your apartment, a mood board for a client, workout videos, Halloween costumes, you name it.
The launch of Collect by WeTransfer marks a big shift in how we’re moving from a file transfer platform to a set of tools that encourage creation and collaboration. We’re nearly 10 years old, but we’re still learning, we’ll keep learning and we’ve learned to listen better. We hope you’ll continue to join us on this journey.