When you love and use a product like Evernote, at some point you probably wonder “why did they include this feature and not that one?” or “why is this button where it is?” – or maybe just “what’s next?”
For most of us, how software, apps and tools are made is a total mystery – and most companies like to keep their development secrets just that – secrets. Which is why it was so interesting to me that Evernote is beginning a series of “Evernote Talks” events to pull back the curtain and let you see the inner workings of the company, and to meet company insiders. Last night was the inaugural event in San Francisco, called Evernote Talks: Meet the Designers. Evernote Platform Advocate Rafe Needleman (www.oppnotes.com) moderated the event, with guest speakers Jeff Zwerner (VP of Branded Products and Experiences), Gabe Campodonico (Evernote Chief Designer), and Naomi Pilosof (Evernote Product Manager). Each speaker discussed what’s going on in their respective areas – Jeff talked about the upcoming pipeline of physical products that will extend the Evernote experience, Gabe shared Evernote’s approach to design, and Naomi discussed how Evernote is working to make sure every user has a great first-time experience when they begin using Evernote.
Jeff discussed the evolution of Evernote from just a note-taking tool to a platform for lots of different ways to remember everything, and how moving beyond the software and into the physical world is an extension of that. We’ve already seen the Evernote Smart Notebook from Moleskine and the Sky WiFi Smartpen from Livescribe – and from what Jeff says, this is really just the beginning of the array of Evernote-integrated products and tools we’ll see in the future. I’m super-excited to see what Jeff’s team is going to bring us in the future in terms of Evernote-branded products.
One of the things that Gabe discussed was the evolution of interfaces of the various platforms, and how Evernote tries to both stay true to the conventions of what’s expected in terms of how a UI should work on each platform, while at the same time trying to push the boundaries of the UI to make it the best it can be. He discussed at length the new iOS and Mac interfaces, and how his team worked hard to bring important UI elements the the forefront and get secondary elements out of your way until you need them. As a former UI designer myself, I know how challenging it can be to create something that is simple enough that it’s easy to use while simultaneously having enough functionality that more experienced users are satisfied as well.
I know a number of people in my community have mentioned to me that all the Evernote interfaces should “match” across various platforms, and Gabe explained why they don’t – and why they shouldn’t. Each platform’s conventions are different, and using Evernote on a mobile device isn’t the same as using it on a computer. Trying to make the UI the same across the board probably would look nice visually, but wouldn’t end up satisfying anyone actually trying to use Evernote.
Naomi’s talk on the first-user experience was really interesting. Evernote has clearly done a lot of user research on this topic, and they’ve started implementing new onboarding methods. For instance, if you install the new app on iPhone or iPad, you’ll see a series of cards which showcase a variety of ways to use Evernote, all written by my fellow Evernote Ambassadors. These are real-life examples of why and how to put Evernote to work for you. Since I train people on how to use Evernote, I know the first experience you have with it can be critical (as with any new software tool), and I’m looking forward to seeing all the new ways that Evernote will continue to make new users feel right at home.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Evernote event without great food, drink, and conversation! I spent a good chunk of the evening chatting with Evernote staffers, Evernote users, and Evernote not-yet-users. As with the Evernote Trunk Conference, this was a great way to connect with the Evernote community in a very fun and intimate way. I’m very much looking forward to more Evernote Talks events in the future.
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