Planning a Planner, Part IV September 24, 2015 07:50

After some back and forth, tweaks, and revisions, we finally sent our final files to the printer last night for our planner! We are beyond excited! This means that we will be able to hold our brain child in our hands next week, and you will be able to check out our final design and purchase a planner in as soon as two weeks! Once we have a hard date for the big reveal, we will shout it from the rooftops, don't you worry.

Over the past three weeks we have being talking about the development process for our planner in our "Planning a Planner" series. Here are the links to Part I and Part II.  Last week in Part III we talked about our focus group. As mentioned last week at the end of the two month trial we asked our group to send back answers to a list of questions, either their actual planners or scans of some sample weeks, and any additional feedback. This information was invaluable. The feedback sparked many conversations between us about pros and cons of each of our layout decisions. We made many tweaks and changes, and are pretty happy with our final product. 

So, let's talk about some of our layout decisions and some of the changes we made; we'll focus on the week layout.

In our sample planner sent out to our focus group we included a page where we gave examples of how to use our layout:

With one of our main goals being versatility, we focused on making our layout as flexible and unconfining as possible. You can see that our initial layout had a large space at the top and then the bottom was broken into four separate sections. With this layout you can use all five sections for whatever works best in your life.

After receiving the feedback from our focus group and looking at the samples of how they used the week layouts we noticed a few common themes, the first being that no one seemed to know how to use the large space at the top. It was hit or miss as to whether it was utilized. Sometimes it was used for daily appointments, and sometimes it was used for lists that may or may not have to do with that particular day. We also noticed that four sections at the bottom Were too many and that only one person in the focus group actually utilized all four sections during the trial. 

In our 2016 planner we decided to include a similar page that talks about the benefits of our layout:

You can see some of the changes in response to the feedback. We added the time of day as a guide for the top section in case you wanted that section broken down with appointment times. We tried to make the times small and unassuming to maintain flexibility, so that if you decided to use the top section in a different way, the times wouldn't hinder you in doing so. We eliminated one of the sections at the bottom. We also made the top section along with the three bottom sections slightly smaller. By doing this we were able to add graph paper at the bottom as "free space" so that you can make lists or sketches, etc. that aren't tied to any specific day. The current month was added to the small months on the side, so you can now see three months at a glance. Overall the revisions were to eliminate space that was underutilized by our focus group and to create functional space that there seemed to be a need for. 

Prior to our meeting to go over the feedback from the focus group, we thought our initial layout was perfect! We were so proud of it. What were we thinking? Most of the trends we saw in the samples sent back to us were also present in our own planners. We feel way more confident about our new layout. But we are sure after we use it in 2016 we will find more room for growth! (We will definitely be soliciting feedback too, so feel free to contact us with any questions or comments after you purchase your planner!)

-- Mary Beth and Becky

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