File Transfer Services: The Good, The Bad, and the Broken

Our Old YouSendIt Embedded Uploader

Our Old YouSendIt Embedded Uploader

Each time an order is placed, everyone is prompted to upload their corresponding artwork. For two and a half years, we’ve used YouSendIt as our file transfer service of choice. YouSendIt has, by and large, been fantastic. It has given our customers an easy way to send us large files (those who have come up against it will know that we have a strict email attachment size limit). It has also allowed us to send proofs of any artwork we create to customers. There are many more technical ins-and-outs with the service, but most importantly, it has done the job well.

YouDidn’tSendIt

A few months ago, we started receiving reports from customers that their web browser crashed or locked-up when attempting to upload a file to us. At first, we put this down to rare combination of technical incompatibilities—everyone has different browser/anti-virus/Flash combinations and versions. But then we realised that the frequency of these reports were increasing, so we looked into things a bit more, and it seemed to mostly happen when people were using Google Chrome.

Chrome is 'unsupported' by YouSendIt

Chrome is 'unsupported' by YouSendIt

Seeing that Chrome is in fact a very good browser (enough for even a long-time die-hard Firefox fan like me to use it) and quite clearly increasing in popularity, we took up the issue with YouSendIt. They informed us that they were aware of the issue with their embedded ‘uploader widget’ (the one we used on our website), and that they were working to get it fixed. They also added a warning for Chrome users to make them aware that they may “experience issues”. This carried on for a few months, by which time, we were receiving more and more complaints from customers about YouSendIt not working for them. That which is bad for our customers, is obviously not good for us either.

YouDidn’tFixIt

We stuck with YouSendIt in the hope that they’d fix the issue soon, in the meantime offering customers the alternative option of free services like MailBigFile, DropSend and ge.tt. This of course wasn’t ideal for either us or our customers, and was causing way too much ‘aggro’, so after a brief discussion in the office, we started looking to use a different service.

Dropbox

We’ve long been fans of Dropbox. Some of us have our own accounts, and we’ve been hugely impressed by the way it ‘just works’, a huge plus for any service. We even began to build our own file uploader based on Dropbox’s service, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time to make things work just the way we wanted, although this is definitely something we’d like to pursue in the future as it would integrate very well with our process.

A New Service

While we were looking for a new service to use, we noticed that some clients were sending us their files using WeTransfer. It looked like a nice, easy-to-use service and seemed to be reliable. We made a few enquiries, and to cut the story short, we’re now using our own WeTransfer channel. We implemented it yesterday, and so far, it’s all looking good.

YouStoppedIt

Over the next few months, we’ll be phasing out support for our old YouSendIt account. For most people, this won’t make any difference—all of our old YouSendIt links have been replaced. Some of our regular customers may have our old service bookmarked, so some bookmarks will need to change. We’ll be updating all our regular customers about the new service soon.

The Venture Banners WeTransfer Channel

The Venture Banners WeTransfer Channel

WeTransferred

Having our own WeTransfer channel is very helpful. It means we can:

  • Pre-fill the recipient email address (which saves our customers from extra typing)
  • Brand it (instead of having the adverts that show with the free version)
  • Save money (YouSendIt cost us more than twice as much)

A Couple of Things Though…

While everything seems to be going fine with WeTransfer, we’re very picky individuals, so we have a few things we’d love to see added to the service in the future:

  • A non-Flash (and non-Flash-reliant) version
  • A mini embeddable version to use within our own website
  • The ability to lock the recipient field
  • The ability to use hidden or locked parameters (order numbers, for instance)
  • Access to the short URLs (which currently only get sent to the sender)
  • Browser-native downloads (rather than the current ‘in-page’ download)
  • The ability to re-direct customers to another page once the upload(s) have finished

We’ve been informed that a non-Flash version is already in the works, which is great news and will immediately bring advantages to everyone, especially those on mobile devices. We realise they are a relatively young service, and everyone has teething problems at first, but we hope to see these features someday and look forward to using WeTransfer for the forseeable future.

About Ian

Ian Oliver has always had a keen interest in design and computers. He started using CorelDRAW at the age of ten, later migrating to Adobe InDesign at fourteen. After leaving College, Ian secured his first job as a print-based designer at Dovercourt Ford in Essex, working in the marketing department alongside Scott and Wayne. He has since learnt the fine-art of front-end web development, and trained himself using best-practice modern web standards. Also interested in the world of technology, Ian now describes himself as an Open Source and web standards advocate, Graphic Designer, front-end Web Developer, expert in the intricacies of HTML and CSS, and an all-round tech geek. He sees HTML like Neo sees the Matrix.
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