How to capture ideas right at the moment?
Humans are exceptionally good at thinking up ideas. However, we are not very good at remembering all those ideas. It is crucial for many people to capture their ideas as soon as they have them.
Understand the user
I interviewed 4 people about whether they have a habit of recording their ideas and how they do it. All interviewees take notes when they have valuable ideas or new to-dos. Unexpectedly, 3 out of 4 interviewees prefer to use paper and pen jotting down ideas, and only use mobile app as an alternative tool.
Based on interview, I concluded 3 typical stories about the users.
1. Help users capture the little bits of genius that they have everyday.
2. Let users focus on the task itself rather than organizing tasks.
3. Make the past notes more accessible for both good organizers and poor organizers.
Paper or app?
Through the interview I realized that different platform has very different features. So before I started designing a specific solution, I asked myself a question - Is an app really what people need? I want to verify if the mobile phone is the better medium.
Considering that ideas can happen anywhere, anytime, portability is a crucial factor for the medium. The mobile phone has a definite advantage in terms of portability. In addition, ideas are usually captured in very short form - this is within the capabilities of mobile phones. So I concluded that the mobile platform serves the purpose of this project better.
Problems of mobile apps
I looked at some note-taking apps and the biggest takeaway is that note-taking apps are often powerful yet too complicated. Simplicity is a big reason why many people still stick to paper nowadays. In a powerful note-taking app, there are a lot of actions required to take notes. Whereas using paper and pen, users can just intuitively jot down what's in their mind.
Design a solution
In the early exploration of screen layouts, I used a card list as the container of ideas so that users can quickly switch from one idea to another while reviewing. I also made the Add button the dominant CTA in the home screen.
Being more comfortable with digital tools, I quickly moved to wireframing and developing the user flow in Figma as soon as I got rough ideas about the screen layouts from the paper sketch.
I wanted to create a clear visual separation between different categories of notes. As chunks of multiple colors might get visually overwhelming, I tried to avoid using an intensive color palette. Hence I used relatively soft colors to create a delight visual.
The material design came to my mind naturally as the card list is a main component of the UI. Although the material design has been widely used for a while, I had never completely followed the material design guidelines in a project. Thus I thought this could be a good practice of getting familiar with the material design.
Sparks is a note-taking app focused on simplifying the process of taking short notes and managing notes so that people can capture ideas right at the moment.
Capture fresh ideas with one click
Adding new notes needs to be fast, because ideas might slip away at any moment. To reduce users' decision-making process, Sparks only has one type of note and one button to add a new note.
Speaking is more efficient
Voice input is a more efficient way to record ideas, as long as it is easy to trigger. In Sparks, users can press and hold the "Add" button and record what's in their mind. Voices are not only converted to text but also saved.
Filtering ideas/tasks in multiple ways
Sparks provides users with two ways to categorize their notes, color-code and label. In the filter panel, users can easily access a certain type of notes. In the calendar panel, users can quickly access notes with reminders and view them chronologically.