Design Strategy

Our design strategy is the unifying design language we use at Dropbox. This section outlines the rationale behind it, and how we apply it to our work.

What’s a design strategy for, anyway?

Our design strategy sets a new standard for how we express ourselves through visual and product design. Use this doc to keep your designs looking, feeling, and sounding like Dropbox.

So, what is the Dropbox design strategy?

Composing Chaos

Orchestra Image

The Dropbox design strategy

Composing Chaos


Creating order out of the mess and harmony out of the discord. Thoughtfully arranging for both utility and peace of mind.


The way we live and work today: messy, real, and always changing. We recognize and are designed for the blended reality of modern life.

Why do we compose chaos?

Cultural Truth

The world we're reacting to

Our 24-hour, always on lives


We stand against...

Complicated, siloed tools that leave us scrambling


Our job at Dropbox is to...

Create structure out of your entangled life


So that you can...

Make meaningful progress on what matters to you

How to Compose Chaos

All great design is usable, consistent, and recognizable. To make sure your design composes chaos:



Warm, soulful, and relatable. Dropbox is a tool for organizing life—at home, and work, and the messiness in between. Our products should reflect how people really are in all of these spaces. And they should feel like the work of humans.

If I were a user…

  • Is it obvious what I should focus on?

  • Do I instantly know how it works (without an FAQ)?



Keeping things simple. Clarity is not simply about reduction though. It’s about surfacing what really matters, cutting out what doesn’t, and reducing complexity everywhere. We compose the chaos, so our users don’t have to.

If I were a user…

  • Do I know exactly what to do next?

  • Can I see how another Dropbox product might make something simpler (i.e. going from sending to signing)

  • Am I expected to change all of my habits or does this fit into how I already work?



Helping you make progress. Our products should feel wonderfully doable, for experts and beginners—so our users always know what to do next. They should never have to read a manual to understand how Dropbox works.

If I were a user…

  •  Is it clear how a feature fits into my real life? 

  •  Do the people and situations in these photos / illustrations feel realistic and relatable?

  •  Do I feel a sense of warmth and humanity?

To design like a human…

  •  Don’t force people to change habits—make their existing habits better

  • Create harmony between colors or word and image.



  • We compete on user experience, not features. 

  • Can you make a mundane task like organizing feel satisfying(dare we say fun)? 

  • Forget delight—that’s superficial. 

  • Embed a little something that makes Dropbox feel as good as it functions.

If I were a user…

  • Am I surprised a tool for work is actually…fun to use?

To bring a little magic...

  •  Add in some chuckle-worthy microcopy

  •  Challenge yourself to make a mundane task effortless (think: auto-organizing content)