CrashPlan Mobile App Case Study

Table Of Contents

Overview     Research     Flows & Mockups    Deliverables     Outcomes


Code42 Software makes a product called CrashPlan, which helps people back up their files to an offsite location. The existing CrashPlan mobile app allows customers to download ("restore") files to their mobile devices and export them to other mobile apps. Customers believe there are a lot of missed opportunities that should be explored.


  • I was on my own! I put together the research, wireframes, low-fidelity and high-fidelity comps, and interactive prototypes.
  • No guarantee that this work would lead to any product changes. This was an exploratory exercise.
  • The Design team was creating a new design language that was not finalized during the initial project run.
  • Project was part-time and secondary to other full-time job duties.


  • Modernize look and feel of mobile app
  • Incorporate account management, ability to contact Support, and update billing information
  • Conceptualize ways to preview files from backup
  • Conceptualize options to back up mobile device data

Project Process

Using Lean UX principles, I was able to maximize my time and resources. I built a library of design assets so I could move dynamically between user flows, rapid prototyping, and testing. Every major iteration would go through two rounds of peer feedback and then prototyped for testing.

Tools Used

Sketch, Sketch Mirror, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Omnigraffle, pen & paper, whiteboard

Research and Existing Experience

Users are able to download ("restore") files from cloud backups of their computers. After download, the app will automatically update files locally as the file in the backup is updated. The app also shows you how much of your backup is completed in percentages.

As a Support technician, I saw a number of users writing in to find or request more features in the app, so I wanted to aggregate our ticket history for data.

Ticket Volume Breakdown

  • 110,000+ support tickets filed between January 2009 and July 2016 inquiring whether/how users can back up mobile data.
  • 20,000+ tickets in the same timeframe were filed inquiring about viewing files in backups. (Users presently need to download a file to their device first to view)
  • 650+ tickets filed requesting the ability to see thumbnails of their files

Other Feature Requests

  • Can I send a link of a file in my backup to a friend?
  • Is there any way to administrate my account when I'm away from home?

Persona Creation

From the research, I put together three personas:

  • Jo, grandmother, doesn't user her computer much but loves her mobile device especially for showing photos.
  • Dave, the resident techie and parent, needs kids' data separate from parent data.
  • Karen, frequent traveler, seldom ever home, needs to make account and computer changes on the go.

Fun Fact: Grandma Jo became a mainstay persona for me - not just for design, but for providing support, internal training, documentation, and fostering understanding between the company and the customer. Grandma Jo rocks.

User Flows & Mockups

With Adobe XD, I built interactive prototypes and tested with people not familiar with the existing solution, as well as app veterans. I collected feedback from Support, Product Management, Design, and Marketing on the daily.

Fun Fact: I earned a reputation across the company for ruthlessly breaking down communication barriers between teams. I got Vice Presidents sitting in rooms with Support agents. It was awesome.


The final package for Product Management included:

  • Wireframes of all new features, panels, and modal dialogues.
  • Workflows on how to access/use new features, suggested interactive design elements (such as transition animations), and annotations.
  • High fidelities of key screens to demonstrate how to use CrashPlan's new design language. I created these in Sketch.

Bonus! Interactive Prototype

Part of the fun of Adobe XD is that it offers embeddable interactive prototypes and wireframes. I used this prototype for hands-on testing with Code42 employees.

Play around with the prototype on the left! If you click in a non-clickable area, interactive areas will briefly highlight. The file named "Car" on "Josh's MacBook" and the hamburger menu items are set up for interaction.


The result was an interface that elegantly combined ease of use and security. Through the mobile app, customers could now:

  • Edit billing information
  • Renew subscriptions or add/remove computers
  • Lock or unlock access to shared backups
  • Back up phone camera roll
  • Share links to cloud files
  • See file previews
  • Remote-start computer backups

The project was praised by Product Management and Engineering and earned me a seat at the table alongside Product, Marketing, and Support teams to continue advocating for a better end-user experience.

My work on this project also landed me on the CrashPlan 5 desktop app interface team.