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Dropbox Showcase review: a good reason to pay for Professional?

Dropbox Showcase
Great assets: Dropbox Showcase lets you bundle together different types of files for sharing

Many of the organisations I work with rely on Dropbox for sharing files, yet few pay for the service. Why should they when they get what they need for free? Dropbox Showcase is one of the company’s premium features, only available to subscribers of its Professional plan (even Plus subscribers don’t get it). So what is Dropbox Showcase and is it good enough to tempt more people into becoming paying subscribers?

Dropbox Showcase – what is it?

Dropbox Showcase is basically a way of flaunting your work to colleagues or clients. Imagine you’re a marketing account manager (I know it’s awful, but do try) and you want to show a client all the creative assets for a forthcoming campaign – posters, logos, video ads, billboard designs. Showcase makes this easy.

You don’t need any technical acumen. It’s a simple (perhaps a little too simple) drag-and-drop system. You can choose to either insert files that are already in your Dropbox folders or upload them from local storage on your device.

Give each file a new title if you wish, write a short description of what’s contained in it, and choose from a few different ways of displaying the panel it sits in (left aligned, right aligned, full width etc).

Dropbox Showcase

Once you’ve got all the files on the page, you can drag and drop them into whichever order you wish. The company’s logo, a banner image and a written introduction can be placed at the top of the document, and you have the option to insert text boxes anywhere on the page; if you want to explain the concept behind a set of images, for example.

I spoke to Rob Baesman, Director of Product Management at Dropbox, a few weeks ago. He said the idea of Showcase was to remove one of the things that “create friction” in the workplace. The number of apps that people work with on a day-to-day basis continues to proliferate, but there’s no easy way of dragging in content from different apps to share with other people.

“We were going to professionals, looking at the challenges they were having with that content, and their needs were not being met by any tool,” Baseman explained. “Work is getting more spread out.”  Showcase aims to bring it back together.

Dropbox Showcase – the verdict

Does Showcase succeed? Certainly, if I wanted to quickly share a batch of assets with a client or colleague, I’d consider using Showcase – especially if those assets were already in Dropbox. It’s effortless and there’s no learning curve whatsoever. And it’s more accessible from the receiving end than simply getting a link to a Dropbox folder and having to plough through the files one by one.

If you need to make sure the right people at your client had seen the Showcase, the service also offers view stats, letting you see which people on the distribution list have accessed the Showcase, how many files they’ve looked at and whether they’ve left any comments. The ability for others to leave feedback being another plus point.

The bit that puts me off Showcase is the rather plain design. There are no themes or templates you can apply to Showcase presentations – every Showcase looks the same and it’s a little flat. Plain white backgrounds, insipid fonts, no real opportunity to drag the eye to one piece of content over another. It’s all based on responsive design, so that your Showcase can be viewed on a computer screen, smartphone or tablet – you can preview what it will look like on each of those devices – but none looks stunning.

If I were trying to win a new client, I’d still go for a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation. You have much greater control over the design and a host of slick-looking templates to choose from.

Is Showcase a good enough reason to justify paying for a Professional Dropbox account alone? No, not for me. But would I use it if I were a subscriber taking advantage of all the other Professional benefits (1TB of storage, smart sync, priority support)? Yes, I absolutely would.

Now read this: How do I get more free storage from Dropbox?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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