Planning a Planner v2017, Part I August 04, 2016 08:00 2 Comments

First off, we appreciate all of the honest feedback we received regarding the UPstudio 2016 Planner. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our inquires and share your thoughts. We are genuine when we say that we are always looking for areas to improve and grow. So please, never hesitate to shoot us an e-mail or contact us via social media, we would love to hear from you.

UPstudio was founded on the idea of creating a planner that is affordable, attractive, versatile, and fit for people in all walks of life. We have tackled a lot of other fun projects along the way, but our planner is still our main focus. 2016 was the inaugural year for the UPstudio planner. We are proud of what we were able to create. The process was challenging and we learned a ton. Over the next month as we ramp up for the UPstudio 2017 Planner release we will be sharing some of the behind the scenes work in a four part blog series, "Planning a Planner v2017". 

We featured a similar series last year, Planning a Planner, where you can read all about the hard work we put into getting the 2016 planner off the ground. We won't go into all of the details here, but feel free to refresh before we get started.

For the 2016 planner, the bulk of the decisions we made were based on personal preferences, our experiences with previous planners, and a focus group we had try out a sample. Our inaugural year was tough because we were creating something out of nothing, pulling all our ideas together and making what we thought were the best decisions.

When our creation finally arrived, we first gave ourselves a pat on the back and showed it off to everyone because we were so proud, and then we started critiquing it and seeing the imperfections, or should we say room for growth. Having a product in your hand to improve upon is significantly easier than starting from scratch. We aren't saying that this year has been a cake walk, but hopefully each year will continue to get easier as we have more experience under our belts and more lessons learned.

The two areas of improvement we are going to focus on today are the cover and the binding, because they kind of go hand in hand.

We heard you all loud and clear, and we completely agree with you, that the 2017 planner needed a cover that was more durable. So we started researching more sturdy materials that were acceptable cover types with the wire-o binding. The options were limited, which lead us to question our binding choice. The binding was a little bigger than we expected, the way it connects allowed the back cover to become detached, and it made it hard to write on Wednesday (or Thursday for those lefties out there). But what were our other options, and would those options give us a more durable cover? We also didn't want to compromise on the appearance of the binding, or sacrifice the ability of the planner to lay flat.

After a lot of research (and really I'm skipping over MONTHS here) we decided to go with a smyth sewn binding (sometimes called section sewn), which is a type of hardcover binding. For those of you familiar with Moleskine notebooks, the binding is very similar. 

A simplified version of how this binding type works:

Your book is printed booklet style in 16 or 24 page sections called signatures. Those signatures are folded in half and sewn together along the folds. A spine is glued to set the thread and edges of the signatures. The collection of signatures is called a text block. Finally the cover material is adhered. (Timelapse of process.) We pulled apart an old notebook to help you visualize:

Smyth Binding - UPstudio

This is the complete text block. You can see all of the individual signatures adhered to the white spine. The ridges seen along the spine are where the thread passes between signatures.

 Smyth Binding - UPstudio

Here we have pulled back the white spine exposing one of those "ridges". As we pull apart each signature you can see how they are threaded together. There are many different stitch types and threading styles used in smyth sewn binding.

Smyth Binding - UPstudio

Here we have opened to the center of one of the signatures. You can see how there are two pieces of thread that pass through the fold, one connecting the signature to the proceeding signature and one connecting it to the following signature.

Just last week we received our printed sample of the 2017 UPstudio Planner with the new binding!!! 

UPstudio 2017 Planner Sample

So sleek, right? The cover will be debossed similar to the 2016 UPstudio Planner with a simple 2017 to add a little character and make it easier to distinguish. But the final product will be almost identical to the one pictured above.

(Such a big reveal, totally worth reading through all that wordy stuff at the top of this post, right?)

The benefits of this type of binding in regards to the UPstudio planner:

  1. The cover is a thicker chipboard compared to the 2016 planner and it is covered with a durable gray leather making it significantly more sturdy. 
  2. This type of binding in comparison to the standard hardcover binding gives the planner the ability to lay flat (so no sacrifice there).
  3. Aesthetically we find the binding just as pleasing as the wire-o binding. Honestly, I think we'd rank this higher. 
  4. The planner seems more gender neutral.
  5. The back cover can no longer escape.
  6. Writing on Wednesdays (or Thursdays) will no longer be a struggle.
  7. The new binding type made it easier to add an elastic closure mechanism.
  8. We were also able to add two ribbon markers to assist in turning right to the page you desire.

Overall we feel switching to the smyth sewn binding type is a huge improvement. There is one semi-downside/challenge that presented itself, but we'll leave you in suspense and discuss that in next week's post.

This is a pretty major change, we would love to hear your thoughts. Good? Bad?

(Congrats, you made it all the way to the bottom! Dedication! As your reward, $5 off the 2016 UPstudio Planner with code HAPPYPLANNING. Valid through Sunday, 8/7 at midnight. Yes, that means a planner for $5!)