Insights from the 2022 Proton survey

Earlier this month, we sent out our 2022 annual survey to the Proton community. We want to thank everybody who participated in the survey. There were a record number of participants — so many that we temporarily hit our survey software’s limits.

The annual surveys are important because Proton, from its very beginning as a crowdfunded project, has always been a community-driven company. We are not beholden to advertisers or any other third parties; we’re here to serve you. The features we build, the efforts we prioritize, and the activities we conduct are largely determined using input from the Proton community.

The Proton community itself is also evolving and changing. As Proton was created by scientists who met and worked at CERN, many of our earliest users were CERN scientists. Since then, over 50 million people have signed up for Proton services, and we’re proud of the fact that today, Proton has a diverse and varied community spanning the entire globe. This also demonstrates that privacy is starting to go mainstream, which will lead to a better internet and a better world.

Interesting findings

To start off, here are a few of the interesting insights we took away from the 2022 survey:

Over 33% of respondents would like a shorter domain name in addition to proton.me. This is the first time we have asked this question, and with this feedback, we will certainly focus on making this a reality.

A full 20% of respondents said that what they most want from Proton Mail is a more attractive/improved user interface. This is matched by the number of comments we receive on social media along the lines of “looks outdated but works” or “looks a bit boring, but gets the job done”.

This indicates that while a visual update is not absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of Proton services, quite a lot of you would appreciate a refresh. This seems to be more prevalent among the newer members of the Proton community, which suggests that as privacy and Proton have gone more mainstream, the visual expectations have also changed.

On Proton’s role

The survey also provided valuable information about what the community feels should be Proton’s role in the world. Roughly 52% of respondents said Proton should fight for privacy and freedom beyond technology, compared to just 29% who said Proton should focus only on technology (and 19% who don’t care).

We are encouraged by this result because, from time to time in the past, we have faced criticism for engaging in advocacy and policy, and it is good to see that a majority of the Proton community supports these efforts. Proton will always be at the forefront of the fight for privacy by winning court cases against surveillance laws, fighting against anti-competitive behavior by Big Tech, and engaging in other advocacy activities. However, we seek to take a balanced approach. Our main focus is, and always will be, building great products and technologies to keep you safe and defend your rights. Proton is also committed to Swiss neutrality and does not align with any state or political agenda.

The most popular feature requests

Over 24% of Proton Mail users said additional storage capacity was what they wanted the most, making it the most popular request. At over 23%, better calendar integration was a close second, followed by a desktop application at just under 23%. In response, we are already looking into increasing the amount of storage that comes with each Proton plan and improving calendar integrations. We were surprised by the significant interest in a desktop application, but with your guidance, this is something that we will explore.

For Proton VPN, the most requested feature was support for more streaming services, followed by servers in more countries and a new browser extension. While Proton VPN already supports the most popular streaming services in most countries, we will continue to add support for even more services in even more locations. Proton VPN already has one of the most extensive networks of VPN servers, with a presence in 63 countries, but we will continue expanding our network and begin working on a browser extension this year.

Community insights

This year’s survey also asked a few questions to help us get more insight into the community. Over 82% of respondents thought that Proton was trustworthy (and a further 10% did not agree or disagree), and around 70% of respondents were very likely to recommend Proton (rated a 9 or 10). We are humbled to have your support and will keep working to serve you even better.

On transparency, over 62% of respondents thought that Proton was transparent, and nearly 29% did not agree or disagree. Over the years, we have received criticism for not sharing updates on our product roadmap. This is something we’re committed to improving through more frequent communication from our engineering team.

In terms of how best to get updates from us, unsurprisingly (for an email service), roughly 79% of respondents preferred the Proton email newsletter. But surprisingly, over 23% would like a message center with notifications within the Proton apps. We will certainly look into this as we improve our communication with the Proton community and transparency.

Next steps

As we detailed in our latest engineering update, we’re working day and night to deliver more products and features to meet the needs of the Proton community, which remains our main priority. Historically, the Proton surveys have been instrumental in guiding the direction of Proton, and this survey is no different. Therefore, we’re adding many of the features you have requested to our roadmap. We’ll also look into additional visual updates to modernize Proton’s look and feel from a design perspective. We’ll be sharing additional updates on these initiatives in the near future as they progress. Thank you again for your support and encouragement!