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The GDrive Cleanup

IGR had tried to set up systematic ways to help people better access, locate, edit, and organize the file in the Drive, they had yet to find suitable methods for an organizational structure. Therefore, the IGR wanted help in creating a structured system that can have everyone involved.

The goal of this project was to conduct a UX research study for the program of Inter-Group Relations at the University of Michigan in order to organize their Google Drive. 

My role

Team of 5 (3 UX Designers & 2 Library Science Majors)

User Interviews | Persona Creation | Storyboarding | User Flow Design | Wireframing | Usability Testing

Target Audience

Content Creators; 16 - 40 year olds in USA, India and China

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Tools and Duration

Figma, Miro, Google Suite | 4 months



Our observations were compartmentalized into five major clusters of problems and they are:

  • The inconsistency with the naming convention used by different members of the staff.

  • The practice of duplicating files has clustered up the shared drive.

  • A major discrepancy in how and who gets permissions to files/folders.

  • Excess number of drives created while a limited number of them are in use. 

  • The problem of general disorganization and how the problem keeps escalating.

  • The staff have attempted to solve the problem using various styles.


After careful evaluation of the problems listed above, we came up with a list of recommendations we found appropriate and could be implemented to alleviate the existing problems. The recommendations are as following:


  • Naming Convention: We recommend hiring a specialist to supervise the process of brainstorming ideas that fit the needs of every role in the organization.

  • File Duplication: We recommend splitting the Drives into day-to-day use Drive and archive for historic files.

  • Permissions and Access: Our recommendation will be assigning someone in the organization to be responsible for monitoring the permissions, and ensuring all sensitive information is visibly labeled.

  • Number of Drives: We recommend staff to reevaluate the needs of each Drive and reduce the number to one that best fits their needs.

  • General Disorganization: One way to resolve this is to provide training sessions to ensure everyone is on board with the best practices.

  • Differences in Techniques: Staff resort to different methods of file retrieval to solve organizational problems. We recommend the organization to seek professional insight into the various features Google has to offer, one of them being Workspaces within Google Drive.



Getting to know the Client


As part of the research process, our team held a crucial meeting to kick off our project. This meeting served as the first step in our research and laid the foundation for the rest of our work.

The purpose of the meeting was to set a clear plan and structure for our research project, ensuring that we were all aligned on our goals, objectives, and research methods. 

We had been given a proposal for our project with two primary contacts from IGR. Our goal was to introduce our team, get an overview of the problem and establish a good relationship with the client for future communications. We structured the meeting very carefully by diving sections of introductions among ourselves, creating a rough outline of questions to understand the exact scope of the project and some extra stuff like drafting a thank you email to be sent at the end of the meeting. During the meeting, we asked the client questions about their existing system, pain points, and requirements. We also discussed the goals of the project and the scope of work. We wanted to be ready with all these materials before the meeting to provide a smooth and structured process for our team and the client.


Our plan for the meeting can be viewed here.



  • We were able to convey our goals, significance of the project to us and roles in the team.

  • We established a timeline which suited us and the client. 

  • The client conveyed their pain points and requirements which would help us form an interview protocol later.

Pain Points 


File Duplication

The same file is saved multiple times which increases clutter and creates confusion on identifying the most current file.

Naming Convention

There is no consistency in the naming convention regarding its documentation, or its usage.

Number of Drives

There are too many Drives, which are too spread out with each one varying in information they store, creating more disorganization.  

Background Research Reports

After the initial client meeting, our team conducted background research on different areas of the project. We prepared reports on the following five broad categories:

  • General background about the problem

  • The client's background and target population - link

  • Competitor analysis 

  • Scholarly literature review 

  • Potential solutions to the problem.

I was responsible for preparing a report on the client's background, history and target demographic. Each 2000-word report included comprehensive research and analysis from various sources.  These reports helped us understand the client's organizational structure, their workflow, and their existing system. This information was crucial in the later stages of the research process as it helped us design a system that fits their needs.

The major objective was to focus on various aspects of the project and delve as deeply as we could to understand the organization and the problem completely while gaining insights for potential solutions. More significantly, we wanted to learn how to combine the knowledge we gather from many sources and synthesize it into a report.


Based on the information gathered during the initial client meeting and background research, we created an interview protocol. We brainstormed as a team and divided our participant requirements into three categories: lecturers, directors, and administrative assistants. We finalized that participants should be from these categories to get to the crux of the problem. Our interview protocol consisted of open-ended questions that helped us understand the pain points of the participants and their requirements. We also conducted peer review rounds with our classmates and received valuable feedback, which helped us refine the interview protocol further.

The interview protocol started with an overarching question we hoped to answer in the end and an introduction. The questions were designed to gain an understand of how the user uses their google drive, their protocol for naming and sorting files and getting an understanding of their frustrations with the system in place.


Three protocols were developed based on the the category of the participants. We systematically drafted emails to invite the participants for the interviews with options for timeslots and mode of conduction (in-person or virtual). These were all members of IGR and overall 7 participants were chosen for this study. 

The interview protocol can be viewed here.

Each team member conducted interviews while one of us was the note-taker. I was responsible for interviewing ADM 2 and DIR 1 while also being the notetaker for LEC 1. The interviews were recorded while the notetakers took important notes. Each of us also made annotated interview notes to assess the content as well as the mechanics of the interviews.

Affinity Wall

The Affinity Wall is a visual representation of the data collected during the interview process. It's a way to organize and synthesize large amounts of qualitative data, such as interview notes and observations, into themes and categories that can be analyzed to uncover insights and patterns.

To create our Affinity Wall, we started by transcribing all of our interview notes and observations onto sticky notes. These included direct quotes, paraphrases, and observations taken during our meeting. As concrete data points, these notes, known as affinity notes, were ready to be organized for analysis. We then organized these notes into clusters based on common themes and patterns. We used color-coded sticky notes to represent different levels of clustering, with yellow notes representing the initial clusters, blue notes summarizing these clusters, pink notes representing higher-level themes, and green notes representing meta-clusters that encapsulated the overarching themes that emerged from the data.

Throughout this process, we iterated and refined our clusters to ensure that they accurately represented the data and the insights we had uncovered. We also used tools like Miro to help us collaborate remotely and visualize the data in new and interesting ways.

The Affinity Wall allowed us to see patterns and connections that we might not have otherwise noticed, and it provided a powerful way to communicate our findings to our team and our client. By distilling the data down to its essential themes and insights, we were able to uncover key takeaways and make informed recommendations for the next steps of the project.

Overall, the Affinity Wall was an essential tool in our UX research process, helping us to synthesize and analyze large amounts of qualitative data, and providing a powerful way to communicate our findings to our team and our client.

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After completing the affinity wall, our team was able to identify the most common pain points and themes that arose during our interviews with the University of Michigan's IGR staff members. Based on our analysis, we found that the current organization of IGR’s Google Drive lacked clear structure and did not adhere to a standardized naming convention. This made it difficult for staff members to find important documents, which led to frustration and wasted time.

Our team proposed several potential solutions to address these issues, including creating a standardized naming convention for files and folders, implementing a clear folder hierarchy, and establishing a consistent system for archiving and deleting files. We also recommended the implementation of Google Drive’s “Team Drives” feature to allow for easier collaboration and management of shared files.

The detailed findings and recommendations can be viewed in our final report here.

Overall, our research and analysis highlighted the importance of effective information organization and the negative impact that disorganization can have on productivity and job satisfaction. Our proposed solutions aim to address these issues by creating a clear and standardized system that will improve access to information and reduce frustration among staff members.

Our client, IGR, was pleased with our findings and recommendations. They expressed gratitude for our thorough research and professional presentation of our findings. They also indicated that they would take our recommendations into consideration as they worked to improve the organization of their Google Drive.


This project was an excellent opportunity for our team to practice our UX research skills and apply them to a real-world problem. By conducting thorough research, creating an effective interview protocol, and using an affinity wall to analyze our findings, we were able to identify pain points and propose solutions to address them. This project also allowed us to develop important skills in collaboration, communication, and project management. Overall, we are proud of the work we accomplished as a team and feel that we made a positive impact on our client’s organization.

THANK YOU for taking the time to view my work. Please feel free to get in touch or leave some feedback!

Affinity wall
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