A writing project outine shown in the dogear dashboard on a laptop
dogear logo, which resembles a folded corner of paper

Ease your writing process

App Concept

Skip to design process step


roles icon
  • Researcher and analyst
  • UX and UI designer
tools icon
  • Google Forms
  • Numbers for Mac
  • Draw.io
  • Sketch
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Figma
  • Usability Hub
  • Keynote for Mac
  • Adobe After Effects
deveopment and deployment icon
  • Style guide
  • High-fidelity mockups (desktop and mobile)
  • Clickable prototypes
  • Assets for developer handoff
timeframe icon
  • 8 weeks
three images: an initial paper sketch, wireframe, and final dashboard
three images: an initial paper sketch, wireframe, and final dashboard

Writing is hard. Especially when you have all kinds of sources to draw from. How many times have you saved a bunch of source files, then when it came time to write you couldn’t remember where you read that important fact?


Dogear allows you to spend more time writing and less sifting through files.* Organize everything by project, search by keyword, and tag sources for easy access. Drop sources into your outlines, so they’re right there when you need them. You have the information and inspiration; dogear just greases the wheels.

*This project is a concept and has not been shipped.

Research and Scoping

competitive analysis

What cloud storage options do writers already have?

snapshots of three competitors' website landing pages

Competitive analysis

I started by surveying the landscape, looking into three existing cloud storage platforms that writers might use.

logos of Evernote, diigo, and Mendeley
Key findings

There are lots of things that work well in each of these platforms. Each of them has different strengths, but there is no one that provides a comprehensive set of features especially for writers, like the ability to:

  • Save any type of file or web source
  • Highlight and leave notes
  • Perform global keyword searches
  • Create tags
  • Create outlines
challenge icon


Faced with a blank slate - a prompt to develop a cloud storage platform - an initial challenge was to pinpoint an audience. My writing experience led me to believe there could be a gap in the landscape of tools designed specifically for writers.

user research

What problems, if any, could a new product solve for writers?

an opening question of the online survey shown on a laptop screen

User survey

28 people shared insights through an online survey.

Paired with the gaps in the competitive landscape, the survey helped me see an opportunity for a new cloud storage platform tailored for writers. Below are some key findings from the survey.

Writing types

Survey respondents most often write for professional, personal/hobby, and academic purposes.

Platforms used

Most use a general cloud storage platform like Google Drive.


They compile sources by copying links into a text document, creating internet browser bookmarks, and/or saving files to a local folder.


Writers have difficulty organizing and searching through large numbers of files, especially when they’re saved in multiple places.

graph showing the greatest frustrations are organizing and searching through files and having sources saved in various places
graph showing the greatest frustrations are organizing and searching through files and having sources saved in various places
would do differently icon

would do

A couple survey questions could have been more straightforward. Survey respondents are volunteering their time and don’t always read questions carefully, so in future surveys I’ll make clarity and brevity a stonger priority.

user personas & user stories

Who wants a new cloud storage platform and what do they want it to do?

image of three personas stacked on each other

User personas

The online survey gave me the information needed to personify the target audiences for the new product.

photo of student writer
The Student
Age 25
Austin, TX
Writes academic reports
  • When researching for a paper or a passion project, Remy relies on massive numbers of browser tabs. In her first year of graduate school she learned the pain that disorganization can cause and wants to do better in year two. She needs a filing system and an easy way to search among her files.
  • Too many browser tabs
  • Hard to remember which sources had which info
  • Spend less time rummaging through files
  • Separate her school and personal repositories
photo of professinal writer
The Busy Professional
Age 33
Oakland, CA
Writes professional reports
  • In Terrence’s fast-paced job, he oversees a team who research and write strategic documents for clients. He often compiles links to sources in a Google Doc, and saves others to Google Drive or his computer. He needs a way to save everything in one place and share with his team members.
  • Can’t include links to all files in Google Docs
  • Can’t remember why he saved some sources
  • Can’t leave notes in all types of content
  • Maximize team efficiency
  • Plug information into an outline
photo of hobbyist writer
The Side Project Enthusiast
Age 42
Richmond, VA
Writes novels and short stories
  • Lucile is drafting a novel, and has a storyline and a couple chapters. She has compiled many bookmarked web pages for inspiration, as well as a folder on her computer. She's losing motivation to write because of the the lacking organization.
  • Overwhelmed by scattered ideas
  • Doesn’t have storylines written down
  • Store all notes and files in one place
  • Be more organized

User stories

With the personas in mind, I needed to clarify: What do these people want a new platform to do?

New users
  • Learn what the platform does
  • Create an account
  • Understand how to use the platform
  • Create a first library
Returning users
  • Sign in
  • Save a web source
  • Upload a source file
  • Categorize sources into folders
  • Search by keyword
  • Leave “sticky notes” within a source
  • Share a source with another person
  • Create an outline for a writing project
lesson learned icon

lesson learned

User stories truly shape an MVP. The UX and UI design that follow flow directly from the selected stories, so choose carefully!

Information architecture

user flows, sitemap, & content strategy

How can users easily do what they want to do?


User flows

To map the process for accomplishing user stories, I created user flows - first rough paper sketches and then digitally.

a section of user flow pen sketches a section of digitally rendered user flows


But what screens will users see as they move through the flows?

I found that after the onboarding process, the sitemap is pretty simple: almost everything happens in the user’s dashboard and popover forms.

With the sitemap in hand, I drafted a content strategy for each of the main screens. I would refine the content throughout the design process.

challenge icon


While creating user flows, I realized that there could be many ways to use the various elements (start/end oval, decision point diamond, etc.). Each team might use symbols slightly differently.


What screen layouts will be most effective?

initial sketch of dashboard layout


I started by iterating on the basic information architecture of key screens - again, on paper and then digitally.

an example digitally rendered dashboard wireframe
zoomed-out view of many digitally rendered wireframes
three images of wireframes: paper sketch, one digitally rendered dashboard wireframe, and a zoomed out image of many digitally rendered wireframes

User testing


I tested the low-fidelity clickable prototype by asking three users to perform a few tasks:

  • Sign up
  • Upload a source
  • Move a source to a new folder

Testers found a few stumbling blocks that I needed to address. Revisions that helped included:

  • Streamlining the onboarding tour
  • Choosing more recognizable icons
  • Adding words along with icons on buttons
  • Enabling dragging and dropping (developers, I’m looking at you for this one!)

For example, here is how I refined some of the icons.

Icons from user testing
Four basic-looking icons
Revised icons in final prototypes
The same four icons as above, but refined and with labels
lesson learned icon

lesson learned

Showing various states of a screen often means duplicating and modifying the screen mockup. So, avoid endless updates by making sure the base mockup is right before rolling it out!

Visual design


Enough with the black and white. Let’s give this product some personality!

initial sketches of possible logos and names

Logo iterations

Lots of sketching and word associations left me with diverging options for the brand’s name and logo.

three iterations each of four logo and name otpions considered: Scout, Sourcery, dogear, and File Ferret

Preference testing

Not sure which concept to run with, I turned to users for their opinions on four options.

four logo and name options
four logo and name options

The results were clear: users liked dogear because it most tangibly relates to the purpose of the platform.

I was surprised; I thought the dogear logo was a bit boring, even dated. I wanted it to be more modern, edgy, and relatable.


One key change was to update the colors, where vibrant blues are associated with computers and technological energy. I also swapped out the typeface for one that’s lighter and more contemporary, complementing the logo’s 45-degree angle.

final dogear logo

Look and feel

With a general tone set by the logo, I created a moodboard and style guide. Here is some example content from the style guide.

a section of one style guide page, showing typography specifications small images of four style guide pages
would do differently icon

would do differently

I sent the logo preference test in color, but next time I’ll use greyscale so participants aren’t swayed by their color preferences. I might even deploy separate tests for the name and logo, since the logos got much more attention than the associated names.

mockups & preference testing

How does the style look on the actual product?

hero portion of the dogear landing page

Design iterations

I had to work through some ugly first tries to get to a more polished look and feel.

snapshot of first draft desktop landing mockup snapshot of second draft desktop landing mockup snapshot of final desktop landing design

Enter mobile

And at this point, there was a twist.

Until now, I had focused entirely on the desktop app. However, the hypothetical client introduced that they also wanted a mobile app. Without the resources to perform new research and wireframing for mobile, I used what I learned from the desktop to create mobile mockups.

final mobile sign-in page design
final library page design
final mobile outline page design

Preference testing

There were a few design questions that came up while making mockups:

  • On mobile, should the tool buttons be on top or bottom?
  • How about the add button - top or bottom?
  • For desktop, the user can keyword search within a single document or across all documents; how should I show this?

I performed preference tests for each of the above questions, with 18-20 respondents per test. For two of the questions, the solutions were clear. For one - the mobile “Add” button - I needed to be a bit more creative.

“Add” button preference test

option a

mobile dashboard option A with add button near the top right of the screen
“Add” button on top

60% of participants selected this option, but noted issues like wasted space and the possibility of mis-clicks with the search field.

option b

mobile dashboard option B with add button in the bottom right corner of the screen
“Add” button on bottom

40% of participants selected this option, noting the easier thumb reach and look that fits with the brand.


mobile dashboard showing a congratulations pop-over alerting the user of the add button on the bottom right
The compromise

I added a popover upon sign-up that tells the user where the “Add” button is. The on-load animation reinforces this position.

lesson learned icon

lesson learned

Some of the guidelines in the style guide didn’t quite work in practice. So, style guide and mockup development can be somewhat iterative.

Testing and deliverables

user testing & prototypes

Does the interface work for users?

three final mobile screens on an iPhone

User testing

With revisions in place based on preference testing, I wanted to test the high-fidelity clickable prototype with users.

I called on three colleagues and family members to perform several tasks in the clickable prototypes.

  • Sign up and take the tour
  • Navigate to a library
  • Add a folder

The testers had some really useful insights. One faulty assumption that came to light involved the file organization structure. I had categorized libraries, outlines, and tags into separate, equal sections at the top of the file hierarchy. However, users expected their outlines and tags to reside within the relevant library.

Good point!

Final deliverables

With these and other revisions in place, the dogear design assets are ready to hand off to developers.

dogear dashboard displaying a source in a laptop and iPhone
lesson learned icon

lesson learned

Technical and logistical issues can really change a user testing experience. For example, not everyone is comfortable using a buttonless Mac trackpad.

One more thing

I wasn’t quite done, though. To me, the dogear logo was just asking to be animated.

I looked around for the appropriate software to create a custom animation, and fell into Adobe After Effects. It could use some finessing, but my hope is that an on-load animation like this would add meaning to the "Add" button and create a more memorable experience.

app on-load logo animation shown in an iPhone

Final thoughts

If coded up into an app for launch, I think dogear could in fact make writers’ lives easier.

There are some things I would experiment with further, like:

  • Transitions
  • Tools for different types of saved sources
  • Simplified iconography

I would be excited to work with developers to implement all the functions that writers need most.

Until then, happy writing!