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OnionShare

OnionShare is an open-source tool that lets you securely & anonymously share a file of any size.

Role

Volunteer UX Designer

Contributions

UX Design, UI Design, Information Architecture, Moderated Usability Testing

Project Overview

OnionShare is a native app for OSX, Windows, and Linux that allows users to send files privately.

App Problem Statement

OnionShare had a high barrier to entry by requiring Tor Browser to use the app, the UI didn't look like the OnionShare brand, and lacked clarity in the UI.

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Web Problem Statement

OnionShare has two parts - sending and receiving. The onion site where a user downloads their files was visually very different than the look and feel of the .org website and the app, had usability issues, and the user had no idea that they were using OnionShare.

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Goals

Personas & Use Cases

The Journalist

As a Journalist, I need to safely receive files from whistleblowers or other sources, so that I can help protect the identities of sources, people close to myself or other journalists and work more efficiently.

The Whistleblower

As a Whistleblower, I need to share evidence of wrongdoing with journalists or other trusted individuals or organizations, so that I can help resolve legal or ethical issues that I discover.

Product Designs & Interactions

Bootstrapping Tor

Before, when OnionShare started, you needed to have Tor Browser running for the app to not only work but open at all. One early hypothesis was that by bundling Tor into OnionShare, we'd reduce friction for new and existing users, helping to increase the adoption of the app.

We tested this idea with users from backgrounds in journalism and activism and validated our assumption. "If you didn't need to download Tor, I bet I could get my sister to use OnionShare now..." was the sentiment of one of our testing participants.

We removed the Tor Browser dependency, and now you don't need any other software to use the app!

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Refined UI

When the app loads, all buttons that the user can't interact with are removed, providing a clear and actionable UI.

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Ready to Share

When files have been added to OnionShare, a button is displayed that shows the app's state and provides next steps to the user.

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Sharing Active

When sharing is active, the buttons state changes and display a red termination color and updated button text.

One of my favorite additions to the app was the string directly above the onion address. The text is dynamic based on your sharing settings and guides the sender on how to use the address and who can download the files.

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Receiver UI

When the receiver enters the onion address into Tor Browser, the UI is familiar with other file browsing and sharing experiences, and the styles are aligned with the .org site.

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UI Text

We wanted to be intentional about the language used in the app. When the text is clear, ambiguity is reduced, trust is built, and usability improves. We were thorough and collaborated screen by screen.

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