Digital experience for a physical brand and product

Field Notes "Our Notes" — Personal Project

Created February—March, 2017

Responsive Web, Mobile, Desktop, UX, UX Research

The Task: Create an effective interactive brand touchpoint inside an existing brand landscape.

Timeline
Feb. 2nd - Pitch and Creative Brief
Feb. 9th - Wireframes
Feb 23rd - Rough Cut
Mar. 9th - Final Due + Critique

I'm a massive Field Notes fan. If you don't know what that is, they're a memo book company founded by Aaron Draplin. If you don't know who that is, you should look up him and his design work.

Field Notes as a brand values nostalgia, and honoring the past. To this brand, a scuffed up notebook jacket is more beautiful than the day it was made because it has been lived with. It’s reminiscent of the Japanese concept, Wabi-Sabi; Something is made beautiful because it is imperfect. The patina tells a story. In Aaron Draplin’s own words “regular people working really hard” inspired this brand from its inception. Field Notes is about little moments of joy, delight, and surprise.

Field Notes was inspired specifically by old dime novels and memo books handed out by seed companies as advertisements. They have a page on their website that highlights Aaron Draplin's collection of these books. This is where my idea came from.


The Problem: Digital engagement occurs almost exclusively through fan sites of Field Notes.

Fan Sites

There are some really great communities around Field Notes as a brand that exist independently of the brand itself, such as fieldnuts.com and reddit.com/r/fieldnuts. While these obviously add to the brand in a really meaningful and organic way, it could be even more beneficial to have this sort of platform be created and curated by Field Notes themselves.

Competitors

Moleskine has an online platform but it is largely geared towards artists and shows low engagement on posts. There’s a large gap in the market for something like this to come directly from a memo book and sketchbook company.

This is a forum of Field Notes enthusiasts
This Tumblr page is the closest thing to what I was creating. It serves some of the same purpose.

The Goal: To engage with users emotionally through nostalgia and authenticity; to put them directly into the brand’s narrative, making the Field Notes brand story their own story.


Starting Point

I started out in a place that was closely adhered to the existing Field Notes brand website. I departed from this for a while, removing the experience from their website and moving it to its own space completely.

Showing a possibility of what this may end up like
A modal showing details of the selected notebook

Sitemap & Information Architecture

After the first round of styleframes, I made an IA map to outline the pieces of the experience. I later revised the map after changes as a result of my testing and research.

Click for a full sized image.
Final information architecture sketched out.

Initial Survey

The Questions

I asked four really quick and easy questions. “Do you collect/consider yourself a Field Notes collector?”, “Do you keep your used Field Notes?”, “Do you think you use them in any unique ways?”, and “How do you store them?

Sourcing Participants

I sourced all of these survey takers on my personal Facebook. I put out a status asking if I had any friends who used Field Notes brand notebooks and sent them the questions.

Findings

My goal in this survey was to see if people at a micro-level cared about Field Notes enough to speak passionately about them. Without question, the answer was an overwhelming yes. A lot of their comments help to inform my personas. Overall, their responses were fuel to the narratives I would weave.

“I don’t take extra care of it, I like the character it gains from actually being used."

— Field Nut #1536


Personas

These personas were a synthesis of the type of users I identified in my first survey, as well as observations I made while browsing Field Notes fan pages. They were a helpful benchmark when head deep in UX work to remind me who would be using this.


Wireframes

Paper Prototype Test

I tested these three screens with two different people for a quick usability test. I wanted to see if people could quickly understand what was happening and if they could find the key functions of the website quickly. After the tests, I conducted very short interviews to help inform my next design decisions. I asked what they thought of paywalls for viewing content, posting content, and for posting certain amounts of content.

These rapid-fire guerilla tests helped me correct course as I went.

Wireframes Round 2


Large Scale Survey

174 Responses
82 Total Field Nuts

Posted on Reddit in the field nuts Subreddit, the notebooks subreddit, and the sample size subreddit.

Goal of the Survey

My goal was to gauge interest, determine key motivators, demotivators, awareness around the brand, and get some cool ideas for topics/uses of Field Notes to feature.

Sourcing Participants

I posted this survey on Reddit in several different Subreddits. It was the top post of the /r/FieldNuts page for about two weeks straight, giving me a lot of traffic.

Findings

The sheer amount of data let me see at a macro scale whether people would be at all interested in this, and if so, what they would be looking for. A lot of their responses were invaluable to me and the process of this project.

Survey Results Google Sheet

Look at these graphs. Okay now you can stop.

Almost there...

"Idk, it's kinda busy."

This was where I was before I got a ton of feedback from peers during a salon-style critique, as well as a few user tests, that suggested this was way too dense. So, back to the drawing board, I went!

Field Notes: Our Notes v. 1.5

Final website

Final mobile experience

Upload process: Old vs. New

Old vs. New

Retrospective

This project allowed me to get pretty close to a comprehensive quantitative study of a brand's customer base. Namely, because the fans of Field Notes are very passionate and the platforms I used to distribute the survey were effective. Working with that data, and with a group of super fans that cared so much about the product made this a rewarding experience. I was able to dive into areas of the UX process I hadn't been able to touch much before. All in all, I'm proud of the outcome and the journey I took to get there.

Since you made it this far, You may be interested in this project.

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