Collect and share ideas in a notebook

From design brief to design feedback

Abstract Notebooks are designed to meld creativity with collaboration by incorporating your favorite design tools with innovative documentation and communication processes. You can present your work and ask for reviews in a single, flexible space.

A notebook is the center of your design process—a place to show your work and a way to focus, explain, and discuss the decisions you and your team make that lead to the outcomes you’re working towards. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of a straightforward design workflow—from project brief to design review—and show how Abstract Notebooks helps you develop, collect, and share your design work with your team in one place, so you can be more focused and your work can be more effective.

Write a design brief

Most successful projects start with a clear description of the issue they are trying to solve. Rather than jumping directly into a design tool and working in pixels, start with words. By getting a clear understanding of the issue in writing, your team can avoid misunderstandings early in the process and save time later.

Some questions you may want to ask and answer in your design brief are:

  • What is the issue?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the goal of the project?

Start by creating a notebook and writing out the answers to these questions. As an example, let’s look at how a team building a banking app might create a design brief in a notebook.

Guide-Create-Design-Brief.png

A good design brief should have a concise problem statement, one or more tangible objectives, well-defined and achievable success metrics, and at least one user story.

Explore and import visual designs

With a clear design brief in hand, let’s explore some ideas. This part is often messy, whether you’re working in Figma or Sketch or with pencil and paper. Ideation and creation can look cluttered to people watching from the sidelines, while you iterate through design ideas as quickly as they come. Thankfully, notebooks are a great way to clear away the cruft and collect work that shows the narrative of your design thinking.

Using the banking app project again, let’s take some ideas from a Figma frame and add them to our notebook.

Guide-Create-Design-Proposal.png

The images alone don’t tell the story, though. We can write some accompanying descriptions to explain how these designs tie together and address the issues brought up in the project brief.

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At this point, we have a notebook with a problem statement and a proposed solution, with visuals and explanations. We can share this with our teams and they’ll be able to understand our goals and intentions. The notebook tells one continuous and focused story to anyone who reads it, without the need for additional, external context or explanation.

Set the status and request reviews

The full power of Abstract Notebooks is achieved when other people are brought into the conversation, moving an idea from a design to a discussion to a decision. Setting the status of the notebook tells other people what stage the work is in, so they’ll know what kind of review is needed. A notebook with a “Work in progress” status is likely not open for detailed reviews, while one marked “Wireframes” is often ready for granular feedback of visual designs.

Let’s set the status of our notebook to “Open for feedback”, since we’re interested in high-level feedback on our design direction. We can then add people to the discussion by requesting a review. Here we can request a review of the bank app designs to get feedback from the project stakeholders.

Guide-Create-Design-Proposal-Review.png

Summary

With Abstract Notebooks, you have a single place to gather requirements, show your designs, and propose ideas. Notebooks give you a way to bring all of your work together and remove any excess or clutter. You can focus on the issues and solutions in front of you and build a cohesive story to share with the rest of your team.

Now it’s your turn. Start with words in a notebook of your own and bring all of your ideas together in one place!