I have a rather complex task ahead to change an existing photo upload system for a website.

Current Situation:

The website has a number of areas in which users can upload photos to (ie: gallery, competitions, groups, etc). Currently the user must go to a dedicated upload page for each area of upload the photo to that area.

Users also have portfolios which currently display the photos they have uploaded to the gallery area.

Required Situation:

I would now like to allow users to upload photos directly to their portfolio and then 'add' the photo into each of the areas as they wish. So, their portfolio is more of a collection of uploads rather than what they have uploaded to the gallery area. The main idea of this is to allow users more upload flexibility in their portfolios.

When a user decides to add a photo to the gallery area (for example), I would like to provide them the ability to choose from a photo in their portfolio OR from their computer. If they choose 'from computer' the image will also be added to their portfolio.

It's important that when browsing a photo in the portfolio that there is some way to reference which areas the photo has been added to on the website.

Like I said, its pretty complex and it's so important that its done in an easy-to-use and simple way. I really don't want to irritate the existing users.

The Question:

I would like constructive feedback, suggestions, ideas, input!

  • 2
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    – Rahul
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


If I understand you, the goal is having a common photo storage and sharing its photos between areas. In additional, the new design should not confuse old users.

1) Modify the portfolio page: users can share the same photos to other areas: use check boxes near the photo

|             |   Share photo to: 
|             |   [x]  gallery          <- users can share photos via portfolio
|    photo    |   [x]  competitions     <- 
|             |   [x]  groups           <- 
|_____________|    ....

2) Users still can upload photos from other areas, for example from the Gallery. So you can see these photos in portfolio:

|             |   Share photo to: 
|             |   [x]  gallery   <- it means that image was uploaded from gallery 
|    photo    |   [ ]  competitions 
|             |   [ ]  groups
|_____________|    ....

3) Add [option] to every area near the upload button to allow users to choose photos from the storage (portfolio) or to upload photos from the external source (web url or local file, etc). If user choose [upload from the portfolio], your UI should display a list of photos those have not been shared for this area, and user can check photos to share its at this area.

[Competitions] Choose to place at this area
     _____________       ____________
    |             |     |            | 
    |             |     |            |
    |   photo1    |     |   photo2   |
    |             |     |            |
    |_____________|     |____________|    ...        

     [x] place           [ ] place 

Firstly ensure users understand what the differences between 'Portfolio' and 'Areas' are. This could be confusing - your design should make it clear that 'Portfolio' is a different type of object to a 'Gallery' or a 'Competition'.

Then I think you have the following three use cases:

1) I want to upload a photo to my portfolio

For a first iteration, I would make the Portfolio the only place where users can upload, edit or delete photos. This simplifies uploading significantly. add an option to the upload UI to 'Share Photo to...' to an area.

2) I am in the Portfolio and want to add a previously uploaded photo to an area

Once a user has uploaded a photo they can choose to share it to the other areas of the site (similar to igor's first diagram) using checkboxes, or tags. At this point we are still in the Portfolio.

3) I am in an area and want to add / upload a photo

When the user wishes to add a photo to an area, take them back to a view of the Portfolio. It does not need to be the top level Portfolio screen, but it should be familiar enough that the user makes the association that Portfolio is where their 'bucket' of images is stored.

If the image they need to add is not currently uploaded, then the upload button should offer a UI as close to Use Case 1 as possible (i.e. 'I am uploading an image to the portfolio and adding it to gallery' not 'I am uploading an image to gallery'). Automatically check the box (or add the tag) for the area the user was in.

Another point to note - consider batch uploads and batch operations. All of the above operations should be supported at a batch level. E.g. allow me to select multiple photos from the portfolio and add them to the gallery.


Consider colour coding (keeping in mind colour blindness). Associate "Areas" with a certain dominant colour, uploading to that area should also have that colour. As well as icons, lots of visual information that is consistent to the sections.

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