This blog post will adapt basic UX principles to a common workaday tasks – writing good notes and recaps.
Here are those basic UX principles:
- Understand the needs of the user
- Meet the user’s needs, quickly & directly
- Intuitive design is best
- Be consistent
(Adapted from here: https://www.mockplus.com/blog/post/interaction-design-principles)
If you take one thing away, let it be this:
Understand what the reader wants and needs of your notes, and design to that understanding. Use of a clear visual hierarchy will imply priority of content and priority of action required.
1) Understanding the needs of your readers and users
Notes and recaps typically have a couple of goals:
- Identifying Things to Do (“Action Items”)
- Providing information or background for future work
Spreadsheets and reports typically are there to provide a quick perspective on some sort of dataset.
Before you’ve started writing, be clear to yourself what you need your readers to get out of the thing you are designing and writing.
2) Meet the user’s needs, quickly & directly
For notes and meeting recaps, I always have a clear structure:
- What was the Purpose / Who was there / Where were we
- Summary / Highlights
- Action Items
- Detailed notes / background
The order there is key, as it should anticipate and answer the reader’s questions:
- Are these the notes I’m looking for?
- What happened? (set context)
- What needs to happen next (action items)
- I need more background (raw notes / background)
3) Intuitive design is best
Intuitive design sounds hard, but it really isn’t. As we’ve already set up a clear priority of information in the structure of the “notes” content, we now need to apply some design in the form of a visual hierarchy.
This visual hierarchy for notes is usually text-based, using headers and text styles, which can be achieved in almost any text editor, no matter how simple or fancy:
MEETING RECAP: V
IA Studio Holiday Planning 2018.11.12
JoBeth, Morgan, Ann, Ben, Jason, Christal @ VIA Studio
- What are we doing for the holidays
- When are we doing it
- What's it going to cost
- White elephant / cookie jam
- Friday two week before Christmas
- $15 spending limit
 Ann to design invite
 Christal to manage calendar
 Morgan to shoot photos
- We need gluten-free cookie recipes
- Different between white elephant and yankee swap is... Etc.
- Don't forget it's John's VIA-versary as well
4) Be consistent
If you are consistent in the timing, structure, visual hierarchy and style of your notes and recaps, they will become intuitive to your readers. Intuitive is easy and easy is understood!
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