I'm currently reworking the file uploading process of our own (custom) CMS system. This CMS powers different types of websites and is mainly used to upload new or select existing images. Some clients have big amounts of images uploaded, spread out over different folders.

The upload module is currently quite advanced, but I have the feeling that the big amount of options is making it overly complicated.

That's why I'm looking for examples of good upload interfaces/processes and advice on general best practices. Anyone got any?

4 Answers 4


If you are concerned about the number of options being overwhelming, then you should consider the concept of progressive disclosure, where the more advanced features are generally hidden until specifically requested by a user action. That keeps the interface simple, but lets power user have access to the features they want/need.



Personally I think WordPress's method of uploading is fairly intuitive, i.e the directory structure (Year/Month/), with a plethora of options available after uploading, size, float, style, alt...etc.

ModX CMS uses a similar fashion whereby you have one resource browser, and the user may create additional folders if required, or just upload to a central directory.

After an image has been uploaded, the user can rename, delete, or right click > Edit, which brings up the cropping, resizing and other more advanced options.

It too is fairly intuitive and easy to use. Following on from ThatSteveGuy's response about progressive disclosure, there's a lot more available than first meets the eye, but if you just want to upload and be done with it, that's fine too.


I'm curious about the options themselves. Are they at all sensitive to the type of file that is being uploaded (for example, options for images, options for pdfs...). If options can be associated reliably with file types, you could let a person choose a file first and then present options that are relevant to the file type. That would keep your interface cleaner while also making it more reactive to what's really going on.


I'd suggest a simple Upload button, with an Advanced button that would allow a user to navigate among folders and add pictures to a list for uploading.

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