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Dropbox's persistent account upgrade prompt

This post was originally written in 2019, but has been updated in 2020 to reflect changes to Dropbox's UX.

Rather than gating its features behind a paywall, Dropbox shows off their cloud-based storage service with a freemium version.

But Dropbox Basic is limited—free users only get 2GB of storage to play with. That may be fine if you just need to share a few files, but 2GB leaves little wiggle room if you want to fully benefit from a cloud-based storage system.

One solution is to upgrade to Dropbox Business, which offers 2,000GB (2TB) of storage and a variety of useful features. 

dropbox business upgrade prompt modal
Returning users see an animated modal that primes them to upgrade later on.

Dropbox knows that at some point, free users are going to need more storage. But instead of simply hitting users with an upgrade prompt when they reach their limit, Dropbox uses a persistent (but dismissible) prompt to remind users of the restrictions that come with a free plan, and offer them the opportunity to upgrade at any time. 

dropbox dashboard user upgrade prompt

If users do dismiss the prompt, a simple “Upgrade account” CTA remains in the top menu. 

screenshot of dropbox upgrade account call to action button in the top menu

Why this is really good UX:

  • The upgrade notification is subtle—it’s situated outside the user’s line of work, but close enough that the message doesn’t get lost. Dropbox has managed to make its upsell prompt visible without causing user frustration.

  • Because the prompt appears consistently throughout the experience, users who choose to ignore it today will know where to click when they’re ready to upgrade tomorrow.
  • Users are primed for the subtler prompts with an animated modal upon signing in. Combining these patterns reinforces the message without feeling too pushy.
  • However, we've gotta say, we miss the quirky illustrations that used to accompany the upgrade CTA. Bring back the cats, Dropbox!
screenshot image of dropbox business upgrade prompt modal with call to action and illustration of a cat in a box