top of page

Improving information
architecture in


Now called



With billions of users and trillions of files, Google Drive users will inevitably deal with space issues. Managing that is a challenge, especially with purging excess files. CleanDrive* was created in 2021 to help Google Drive users better understand and manage their drives. The application offers a snapshot of your account storage and the tools to take action on files. Due to being created by an engineer, it lacks a UX perspective and users have found it cumbersome to use.

The founder wanted to create a product that unburdened the Google Drive user from multitudes of file management processes. I worked with him to redesign an improved information architecture to improve those tasks.

*As of this writing Clean Drive hadn’t changed its name and logo. The updated application is

My Role

I lead the full redesign on this case study conducting user interviews and usability testing among other methodologies. Due to this project being a sprint, managing my time efficiently and choosing only pertinent methodologies was important.

How I got started

With limited time on this project, selecting useful methodologies was of utmost importance. User reviews were unhelpful, with no relevant UI complaints. I was given a file of notes that detailed the major UI concerns, some of which weren’t feasible to tackle in a 6 week sprint. (see the founders notes)  I relied on the founder for user feedback, as he had more direct contact with users. The diagnostics of his user interaction along with his UI notes were the initial framework for the problem.


An account was created for me so I could test the product and see the UI fixes needed in real time. Information architecture an unclear toolset stood out strongly, and the tooltips weren’t clear enough.

Founders Notes - Duplicate files.jpg

Bulk Delete. I have had users on the duplicate page, open the bulk delete dialog and then click all (thinking this would delete all duplicates - leaving 1 in each set behind). I solved this by disabling the “all” option on the dialog unless a filter is used. The problem still exists if the user opens the dialog when using a filter and doesn’t read the dialog thoroughly.

Finding Competitors

I searched for competitors to help ruminate on the visual solutions while completing non-visual tasks. CleanMyMac was an example of clean, easy to understand tools that I felt could help reimagine CleanDrive’s look. I also found that Cloud Duplicate Finder and Gemini also offered features that could influence the redesign as well.

After searching many competitors I narrowed it down to those 3, so I created a competitive analysis to see how CleanDrive compared.


Here's what I found.

Clean my Mac.png

CleanMyMac offers an attractive yet simple layout was the first catalyst for a reimagining of the UI. The simplicity was highly influential to UI decisions. 

Cloud Duplicate Finder was more interesting because of the structure vs beauty. I found some features to be potentially helpful for a CleanDrive redesign.

Gemini was a major contributor for a better UI features and layout. It's simple and clean layout as well as sound structure to the tools positions was a very attractive visual competitor.

CleanDrive competitive analysis.png

With a quick competitive analysis I found that CleanDrive matched up and even surpassed these competitors, which was a nice discovery and kudos to the application's functionality. However it needs visual improvement to better display their use.

How it stands out

To get a better picture of CleanDrive’s strengths and weaknesses, I conducted a SWOT analysis. I got a clearer picture of how to improve the app and potentially increase understanding of how to use it. I felt like a redesign could help it compete at a higher level.

Clean Drive SWOT.png

Heuristic Evaluation

To further validate the scope, I dove into some heuristics.


Here’s what I found.

Access the individual file managers was tedious due to a long scroll. The CTAs lacked solid hierarchy and weren’t readily clear as to their purpose. The duplicate files manager being part of my scope, was lacking clear and understandable tools to take action. The main CTA “Bulk Delete Tool” confused users, leaving uncertainty about the safety of original files after deletion. Adequate contrast of files in each manager was lacking as well, and that affects discernment of the differences. Overall the experience of scanning and taking action on files is clunky and visually mediocre.

CleanDrive Heuristic Evaluation.jpg

Framing the problem

With the main problem areas established, I saw a path for framing my problem. I needed to understand the user challenges as well as the business side. The opportunity to improve the application to help users more smoothly use it as well as help CleanDrive get more customers drove the thinking behind my design question. I focused on 8 specifics to guide me through this initial research, here they are as follows.

With the main problem areas established, I saw a path for framing my problem. I needed to understand the user challenges as well as the business side. The opportunity to improve the application to help users more smoothly use it as well as help CleanDrive get more customers drove the thinking behind my design question. I focused on 8 specifics to guide me through this initial research, here they are as follows.

General Problem
The two high traffic sections that I chose to focus on

Business Perspective –  

The friction of using Clean Drive's toolset, negatively affects
 opportunities and the potential for new customers.


User Perspective –

The same friction frustrates users, potentially leading them away.

Design Question

This is the North Star of the case study and helps build the visual map.

“How might we allow users to better understand their Google Drive's storage allocation, so they can seamlessly organize it?”

Business Perspective –  

By improving IA and elucidating the toolset, the friction of using the
product will be go
ne prompting potential new users and growth in sales.

User Perspective –

The apps ease of use improvement will keep current users happy and
more willing to continu
e use.


I believe Clean Drive has IA and toolset clarity issues that are hindering
the product.


In essence the large question is: How to improve information architecture
to best clearly showcase this product?


Time is a constraint for this case study as this is a sprint case study.

Connecting the applications

CleanDrive isn’t a well-known application, so creating a user interview script took some ingenuity. I needed to understand Google Drive users’ organization and their duplicate file management. I wanted to find experienced users who dealt with challenges and frustrations while using the app and were looking elsewhere for file management help.

Asking the right questions

After constructing an interview script that I felt asked pertinent questions, I conducted 5 user interviews. I was primarily looking to validate file management issues and any frustrations pertaining to Google Drives toolset for file actions.

Here’s what I found.

100% of users found their experience lacked the file management and tools they would like it to have.

80% of users found Google Drive lacking clear tools to manage duplicate files.

Only 40% of users felt good about what Google Drive offers for file management.

“When you’re in the home of drive, I wish that it was organized by, photos, documents, shared drives all in one menu. So you could just easily be like, okay cool, this is exactly where I want to go."

User Guidance

After conducting my user interviews, I used the transcripts to compile an Affinity Diagram of poignant quotes. The results were mixed; however they did emphasize file management issues most prevalently. The users had validated the issue that was core in this case study and pertinent to the problem I was looking to solve.

Clean Drive Affinity Diagram.png


Below are some sketches of the first idea round and the final solution drawing. This process was a bit challenging, as I was in a rush, and found that I had the visual solution mostly figured out already. I decided that it would be good to sketch the ideas to practice and to quickly iterate on the ideas; which is exactly what happened.

Clean Drive sketch_3.png

Left navigation information architecture change. This was my initial idea for the left navigation layout. Overall I wanted to change the IA to improve navigation and folder tree comprehension.

Clean Drive sketch_5.png

Duplicate page redesign idea.
This was my initial idea for a redesign of the duplicates page with a carousel. It was mentioned to me that the carousel would take extensive time to continuously update each images metadata, so I went another way.

Clean Drive sketch_1.png

A simpler look.

This was a more simple look with the left navigation that I wanted to incorporate. 

Clean Drive sketch_4.png

Some added detail to get a better feel.

I used my own Google Drive scan results to get some data into this potential new look.

Clean Drive sketch_2.png

Closing in on the final look.

This is the final Duplicates page sketch idea. From here, I felt good about building wireframes.

Closing on the Visuals

After wireframing a solution based on competitor image influence, I was able to narrow down the look and feel of the application that would support a better interaction and understanding of the tools and features. A left navigation panel was a primary focus in functionality in that in cut down on long scrolling to find the sections. I built my prototype to emphasize these changes and gain perspective on their validity.

Lo-fidelity image of Drive Overview wireframe.

CleanDrive lo-fi Duplicate Files.png

Lo-fidelity image of Duplicate Files wireframe.

A walkthrough of my lo-fidelity prototype

Usability Testing

I was able to recruit 7 participants for usability testing, unfortunately only 5 ended up committing to the tests. None of the participants had used Clean Drive up to this point , and all but one knew of it’s existence making it a surprise application to them. The goal was to gauge whether a better understanding of their Google Drive and taking action on files in it was improved by my redesign. Here’s what  I found.

100% of users felt the redesign was clear and clean displaying tools with clarity as well as evoking a strong purpose

80% of users felt CTA's were clear, however they needed some rearrangements and clear explanation of their purpose, as well as hierarchy.

100% of users felt the redesign solved the problem and would improve upon the application.

"I enjoyed going through this prototype! I would really use this application.
I love how this feels like a software item."

Understanding the Results

Due to users being unfamiliar with clean drive, these results garnered a bit of a mixed reviews for me. They didn’t have a clear understanding of where clean drive fell short, so redesign didn’t illuminate all issues being fixed and changed. In my opinion this skewed the data a little bit as the actual user base of clean drive wasn’t being utilized. Nonetheless due to comments supporting it positively affecting Google users experience in managing files and understanding their drive, I believe it was a success. The ultimate goal was to improve Google Drive users experience with managing files and the redesign did that based on the data.

Founder Presentation

After a stressful six weeks of the sprint, I completed a low-fi redesign of and then prepared my findings for the founder. I presented a slide deck of my findings and methodologies in a meeting over zoom. I explained, in moderate depth, how each methodology was thought through and utilized to collect data to support my research, and ultimately would affect my visual decisions as well. The founder expressed appreciation for this work, yet had some questions.

After the presentation, we discussed high-fidelity output, and went back and forth a few times until we made a solution. Ultimately we compromised on the solution, as he didn’t fully agree with all the visual changes. His belief was his user base had become so accustomed to CleanDrive’s  format and toolset, that drastic change would confuse people and potentially drive away business. In addition, he felt there wasn’t time to implement a full redesign while still maintaining business operations.

In the end, we both believed in the solution, but unfortunately given the timing, not wanting to interrupt business operations, and a potential strong user learning curve, Clean Drive remains visually the same.*

*As of this writing CleanDrive had not changed to Filerev

What I Learned

This case study was incredibly challenging due to the pressure of a real client, as well it being a sprint. Also, there was the challenge trying not to waste time picking methodologies that were unhelpful to the overall solution. I learned to execute methodologies quickly, in particular wireframing and prototyping. I learned the deep importance of my north star, as reflected in the next section. I also gained pride in my ability to recruit for my interviews and usability testing in a limited timeframe.

Slight Loss of Scope and Flow

During the final weeks of the project, I was overcome by stress and lost track of my north star. I had to refer to my story map and really clarify what my solution was. The story map boosted my enthusiasm and motivation and ultimately was a catalyst for getting me back on track and completing my prototype for my deadline. 

This experience made it clear that the how might we question is very important. Also remembering pertinent methodologies, like a storyboard in this case, can truly elucidate the path in a case study. I am proud that I was able to refer to those methodologies find my way again. That really solidified my belief in the processes that successful UX entails.


To fulfill my full commitment to this case study, I finished the color/high fidelity version of the application. Not only for the record, but maybe I could potentially present it to the founder at a  later date if he’d changed his mind.

*Looking at filerev and the structure used for the new application, I can tell that I had at least an influence on the visual decision.

CleanDrive hi-fi Drive overview.png

Lo-fidelity image of Drive Overview wireframe.

CleanDrive hi-fi Duplicate Files.png

Lo-fidelity image of Duplicate Files wireframe.

bottom of page