Redesigning note-taking experience to fit user needs
How might we help people find documents faster in Google Drive/Google Doc? How might we help students pass along notes to lowerclassmen?
Interviewing, Usability Testing, Wireframing, Prototyping
Design a note-taking app for young professionals
Created a clickable prototype, got positive feedback from interviewed users and audience at the final presentation
How did it start?
As a heavy note-taker myself, I've been struggling to find THE PERFECT app for my needs — I wanted something 1) simple yet effective 2) easy to collaborate and navigate, and most importantly, 3) neat and organized. Since I couldn't find it in the market, I decided to design a new app for young professionals like me who take notes regularly, collaborate with teammates frequently, and live and breathe work productivity.
Prototype & Test
In the discovery phase, I conducted primary and secondary research to understand my target users, market competitors, and unmet user needs. I talked to three students, including two extreme users, to discover that:
a) note-taking is crucial for many students and young professionals, especially for med students;
b) having an inefficient note organizing system has prohibited the second extreme user from forming the habit of taking notes and utilizing his notes (e.g. There's no dedicated note section/category in his notebook. He only writes down broken phrases as notes, and later he forgets the meaning of those words).
To align my design with research findings and to help with the ideation, I created a user journey map, an empathy map and a user persona, drafted five design principles, and defined the design challenge into two problem statements:
How might we help people find documents faster in Google Drive/Google Doc?
How might we help students pass along notes to lowerclassmen?
After collecting all the research information, I brainstormed 10 How Might We statements and 50 product ideas. Then I grouped these ideas and refined them into 10 product features. I later created paper prototypes for these features and got feedback from the group critique sessions.
I also redesigned Notion’s mobile landing page and Evernote’s desktop landing page to reflect design improvements in competitors’ apps.
After prioritizing the feature ideas and reflecting on the user flow and user journey map, I decided to only incorporate five of the 10 features and made lo-fi sketches. Later on, I created mid-fi and hi-fi wireframes after continuously getting feedback from target users, classmates, and my professor Anthony Jakubiak (currently the Executive Design Director at JP Morgan Chase) during class critique sessions.
Video credit to Professor Anthony Jakubiak
Prototype & Test
The final design came from multiple iterations of ideas, critiques, wireframing, and testing. Below is a summary of the process and the final design solution.
Here in the appendix, I've included some of the artifacts (storyboard, user flow diagram, IA diagram, journey map, empathy map) that helped me create the final design. Check out the photo gallery bellow if you're interested.
Reflection & Learnings
1. Note-taking habits vary from person to person, even for similar note-taking purposes and scenarios (e.g. class notes, meeting notes). Therefore, note-taking apps should leave room for personalization and customization where applicable.
2. Organization is the key to note optimization. The best note-takers tend to have a more efficient organizing system that helps them find information more quickly and accurately.
3. Young professionals with good note-taking habits tend to be more reliant on notes for information and are more willing to spend the extra time just to "make the notes look good," and vice versa.