When uploading different file types what is preferred that comes first file selection or asking the user to identify the type of file?

When having users upload a mixed set of file types that could be used for different purposes is it better to have the user select the files for upload from the system or ask what the files are for first before asking to select the files for upload? This is for a desktop-focused web app.

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That’s a great question. And as every seasoned UX designer would say, it depends. It’s usually easier for the user to let them upload everything in the same go using the one widget, however there can be problems with this. Let’s say you need to verify someone’s identity and you require a drivers licence and a medicare card. Uploading them separately will allow each document to be verified separately which makes error handling easier. Thinking about the last time I lodged a claim on my cat’s pet insurance for both my cats, each cat required it’s own set of documents uploaded individually, even though I was performing the claim in one transaction. This ensured that each cat had the correct documents. Whilst it was extra work for me making the claim, it most certainly would reduce the error rate as I’m forced to review each cat’s documents. This is a big gain for the insurance company as it reduces the amount of callbacks and reduces length of claim time – important kpis.

In short, you have to really think about how the documents are going to be received – sometimes a bit of extra friction can help the greater good. I know that there are some UX designers who will dogmatically say you must implement the most customer-centric solution and leave everyone else to pick up the pieces, but in my view that can create even more problems for the end user when their transaction has failed.