The private notebook,
that is also a social media app.
2-Week Sprint
March 2021
Moleskine (Student project at General Assembly; this work is not endorsed by Moleskine, nor was anyone from the company contacted.)
My Role
UX Design
Callan Beres (UX Design, Project Manager)
Ashlynn Hernanzez (UX Design)

Project Brief

Moleskine Smart Notebooks are part of the Moleskine + Collection, blending naturally analog elements with smart technology to empower creativity and help you capture, develop and share your ideas. Moleskine Smart Notebooks enable you to pick up a pen or pencil and create freely on paper first and then quickly and smoothly transfer your drawings, notes or sketches into digital format so you can continue to organize, edit and share them from your computer or digital device. 

Problem / Opportunity
Moleskine wants to explore the possibility of adding a killer new feature to their smart notebook line - social networking. Honoring the brand’s heritage of literary and visual creativity, how could a custom social network enhance the needs of Moleskine owners who might want to share - publicly or anonymously - their work? What aspects of Moleskine use today - journaling, sketching, creative note-taking - could be made even better or more fulfilling?

Getting a Feel for What's Out There

There are many social media sharing platforms, most of them consisting of the same basic set of components, with largely similar default settings. 

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To gain a better understanding of the market, we completed a feature analysis of different products that are offering similar services. 

We found that several social networks have reenvorcing like, votes, re-tweets, re-blogs, and follows. 

Asking Why?

We interviewed six notebook users to gain a better understanding of how and why people keep notebooks, and when they are motivated to share, or why they might want to keep the notebook private. 

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Why Notebooks?
We wanted to get a better understanding on how and why notebooks are used, and any unmet needs that come up in relation to notebook use. 

Notebooks and Sharing?
We also asked users if they ever shared their notebooks, and if so why? Did they share the notebook itself, or did they share notebook content on another platform, such as social media? Everyone interviewed shared notebook content, to at least some degree, and we wanted to understand; what is the motivating people to share?

What We Found

Research revealed several trends: utility, privacy, inspiration, and vulnerability. 

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Our group recorded all of the research findings on sticky notes, and organized those notes into groups, a process called affinity mapping. This helped see larger trends that emerged from the research. 

People like to use notebooks as a way to brainstorm and dump ideas. They also use notebooks as a way to stay organized, whether it’s with lists or notes or schedules. A sentiment that continuously expressed, however, is how challenging it can be to organize the organizers: Users typically keep several different notebooks for different and sometimes overlapping reasons. Notebooks or specific pages are often physically misplaced, making it difficult to locate information quickly.

We asked how users might feel about sharing their work with the public and found an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness associated with sharing unfinished work. The majority of these users, however, expressed positive interest and curiosity in being able to see other ppl’s creative processes if it were possible.

They expressed that if they were allowed the opportunity to present their work in an anonymous way, they would probably take the opportunity to do so because they see the value in sharing a creative process. 

[ link to full affinity map]

Meet Bhodi

Bodhi is a persona, born out of the user research conducted by our team. Each personality trait, aspiration, and unmet need is representative of actual users.

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Bodhi is a creative small business owner who relies heavily on notebooks for the generation and sharing of ideas.

Bodhi's full profile is available for download [PDF]

Bodhi enjoys the creative process.

They keep a lot of different notebooks. Organizing everything can be a challenge.

They like to be inspired by other's work, but find the level of polish to be intimidating.

Bodhi doesn't like it when social media is all about the likes.

To see Bodhi's full experience,
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Bodhi wants to share their creative process so that they can cultivate a community that celebrates the joy and creativity in unfinished work.

Exploring Solutions

At this point in the project our group had a shared understanding of what Bodhi needs to feel happy, safe, and useful.

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Our group asked a series of questions about Bodhi's unmet needs. These questions helped expand the scope of possible ideas, while keeping solutions focused on improving Bodhi's experience.

Go after adjectives How might we make the privacy impulse liberating instead of intimidating. 

Amp up the good How might we celebrate the process, rather than the polish?

Question an assumption How might we re-frame the idea of ‘unfinished’ instead illustrate design as a continuous process without a finite end?

Find gratitude How might we empower people to come just as they are?

Shift the focus How might we discourage the notion of performative creation?

Challenge the format How might we transform those stacks of paper / notebooks into a useful resource?

With a shared understanding of Bodhi’s needs as a user, solutions emerged naturally, we were all on the same page with a general strategy to improve Bodhi’s experience:

We wanted to make the pages have easily accessible privacy settings, and the ability to share to groups.

We wanted to avoid quantifying the “likes and follows”

The chart shown below illustrates Bodhi's path in navigating the app.

Prototyping and Testing

A low-fidelity clickable prototype was created, allowing our group to test out specific interactions. 

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Our first prototype was created to test two main points of interaction:The upload new page sequence, and the process for changing permissions on a page. 

Testing showed many opportunities for updates.

Style Guide

Along with usability upgrades, the app needed that trademark Moleskine look and feel. 

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The name LESKI was derived directly from the name MOLESKINE.

This is some information about color choices.

More about typograpgy


and Testing,
Round Two

Incorporating findings from the first usability test, and visual styling, our group made a second clickable prototype. 

This second test went much smoother than the first, only a few minor updates were needed for the final prototype. 

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Rather than having the navigation slide in from the side, we went with an always-visible bottom navigation, as requested in the first round of user-testing.

Privacy settings were simplified from a 3-tier system, to an easier to understand 2-tier system. Either content is public or private.

We also received feedback that some of the notifications were too fast and that they would like some sort of indicator that lets the user know where they are in the app. 


The final version of this prototype focused on two major interactions.

New Content
When uploading new content, LESKI is private by default, and comments are turned off by default.

This helps the LESKI feel like a safe space, where Bodhi can easily upload and organize their personal notebook.

Privacy Settings
What if Bodhi, our user, is feeling inspired to share their work?

Privacy settings are clearly called out with the open or closed notebook icons.

These settings are not only immediately visible to Bodhi, but they can be updated in just one click.

Comments on LESKI are also off by default. Bodhi doesn't necessarily want to hear from the peanut gallery on everything they post. But sometimes feedback is welcomed, and can easily be requested by turning comments on.

Next Steps

This exploration focused on interactions related to content uploading, privacy settings, and browsing. This project does not include: user profile pages, the onboarding experience, the settings menu, and other features such as anonymous posting, or keyword tagging. Each of these sections and features would need to be thoughtfully designed, tested, and refined. 

In addition, user research should be conducted to test the theory that the core LESKI features — content-first, privacy-by-default, and option to turn comments on — result in a safe community where users feel more comfortable sharing vulnerable content.