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Thrunotes

My very own waterproof notebook company

Client: Self-initiated

Duration: Ongoing

My scope of work

What is Thrunotes?

I love journalling on my long-distance walks, but all other waterproof notebooks tear or fall to bits. So, in 2020 I began designing and developing my own and decided to call it Thrunotes.

A huge shout out to Dayfold, the best printer on the planet, and my good friend, Simon Allen for the incredible underwater photography. ❤️

Dayfold

My favourite printer

Simon Allen

Senior R&D Creative Production Support, Lush

1/3 Memo book design and development

Audience: Hikers

Stock: YupoBlue

Bind: Saddle stitch

Press: HP Indigo 5500

The problem

Every notebook I tried would either fall to bits after just a few hundred miles or would get completely soaked. I couldn't find anything on the market which was compact, lightweight, ultra-strong and targeted at hiking.

So, I got to work and began conducting research, analysis, and ideation for the notebooks and the branding.

Other waterproof notebooks easily tear

Key competitors

Field Notes

Rite in the Rain

Karst

Moleskine

Mind Journal

Alwych

Gap analysis

Circular gap map

Feature gap analysis

Memo book ideation

Pencil binder

Singer sewn

Tall and skinny

Square

Hot corners

Miles, days, emotions

Info and forms

Personal info

Logo ideation

Too generic

Trails around the world

Trail ligature

Sense of direction

Connecting elements

A to B

Ligature

Ligature icon

Logo development

Barial: Approachable

Basier: Heavy

Calendas: Grown-up

Wotfard: Clean

Bould: Flip U

Bould: Tidy

Ligature sharp

Ligature rounded

Finalised logotype - A registered trademark

Yellow

Blue

Hot pink

Black

Memo book development

Exploring colour

Prototypes

Multiple features

After selecting yellow and blue for a bright and cheerful colour scheme which is easy to spot if the user were to drop it on the ground, I began sending proofs to various printers, selecting different substrates and binding techniques to test.

Failed prototypes

Synapse + Saddle stitch

Synapse + Wirobound

XE + Saddle stitch

Yupo + Incorrect settings

Testing the proofs

Trial and error

After plenty of testing in the field, I found the right printer and the right substrate to work with.

Synapse was cheap, but not very good quality and you couldn't recycle it. XE was okay, but the weight required would emboss through the other side when written on. Eventually, I chose YupoBlue, a high-quality, fully recyclable waterproof substrate designed to be printed on HP Indigo digital press. The most eco-friendly digital press on the market.

Field tests

The physical proofs and testing

Waterproof, tearproof

Next steps

Not just for thru-hiking

The first edition memo books launched with success, going out of stock in the first few days of launching and with orders coming from wholesale customers out in the US like Garage Grown Gear and plenty of other orders were coming in from all around the world.

Over the coming weeks, I gathered feedback from customers and got to work on the next generation of memo books which would cater for different uses and types of outdoor adventures.

Water tank photography

Thru: For thru-hiking

Explore: For any adventure

Blaze: Lined pages

Sketch: Plain pages for drawing

2/3 First website release

First release of the website

usability and feedback study

Take a look through the Miro board for a detailed view of my usability and feedback study.

Usability study / Customer strong signals

Tom

Any direct feedback?

Premium products, but the site looks cheap...

Tanya

Task: Purchase a notebook with plain pages

I have no idea how!

Theresa

Task: Register a new account

I can't find my account!

Theo

How might you find out how to use Thrunotes?

What does “how-to” mean?

Strong signals

Usability study / Recurring themes

Sticky notes with user pains written on them

Pains

Sticky notes with user needs written on them

Needs

Sticky notes with user gains written on them

Gains

Product C-SAT feedback survey

Survey question

Survey question

Strengthen the brand

A premium product

I also decided to take the usability study as an opportunity strengthen the brand and tone of voice to help Thrunotes stand out from the crowd, as well as to push the fact that Thrunotes is a premium product.

Design research

Moodboard

Water, soft, natural

Clear, scientific, natural

Page style icons

Clear visuals of page styles

Notebook development

Fulfilling customer needs

The new product would be slightly larger and with over 100 pages, which meant it would need to use PUR binding which is ultra-strong while still being recyclable. I also added some perforated pages at the back for leaving notes for people at trail registers or sharing details, maps and directions.

3/3 Notebook design and development

Audience: Hikers

Stock: YupoBlue

Bind: PUR

Press: HP Indigo 5500

Notebook design

Mockup and spec sheet for the printer

Front and side profile

Inside front cover spread

Inside back cover spread

Rear and spine profile

InDesign markup with bleed and slug

Website redesign

Redesigned from insight

The new website and brand ended up feeling much more premium and the new features would greatly improve performance and user retention. Some of the new features in response to the usability study and surveys include:

  • Page styles selected in PDP
  • Clearer page style icons
  • ID links to product info
  • Modals with product features and information
  • A visual how-to section with annotations and modals
  • A more visual mega menu
  • Gift set product category
  • Accessories product category
  • More video content

New Thrunotes website

Site performance

First quarter

Sales

39%

Page visits

20%

Average session duration

64%

Mobile users

10%

Let's launch!

Only the beginning

The new website and brand, together with the new products and categories have been a huge success overall and I sold out of all models within the first quarter.

Next, I'll need to conduct some new usability studies to ensure all the previous pain points have been removed from the UX, for now, it's time to get some more stock in and keep selling Thrunotes around the world.

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