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GrumpyMonkey

(Archived) Evernote Productivity Suggestions for All Clients

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This is a thread about suggestions for making the Evernote clients more productivity-oriented. All of the suggestions I have are about parity among clients and do not require the development of new features or fundamental changes to the Evernote platform. They are just user interface suggestions. Every client has its strengths and weaknesses, and there is no "best" one if we are speaking generally, but in terms of productivity, I consider the Windows platform to be the gold standard.

(1) Sorting

Why not put the same ones on all platforms? Sorting is a core organizational and navigational tool. When something like this is on one platform, but not on another, it makes it difficult to use Evernote on different devices. For example, you can sort by Tags in Windows, but when you go on any other platform, this sort is missing.

  • Windows has 16 sort options + reverse sort order http://evernote.com/...en/sort_win.png
  • OSX has 6 sort options + reverse sort order + grouping
  • Android has 6 sort options with no reverse sort
  • iOS has 2 with no reverse sort
(2) Views

Why not put the same ones on all platforms? Different use cases need different views. A web designer with a bunch of graphical elements will probably use a totally different view than a writer with a bunch of text. In my case, the lack of a List View (title only) or adjustable Snippet View (title plus 0-5 lines of text) hampers productivity on some platforms. In the case of Windows and Android, the vertical list view on the left side (instead of the horizontal one running along the top) is a huge productivity booster for me.

  • Windows has Vertical List View, Horizontal List View, Snippet, and Thumbnail https://www.evernote...Small&width=832
  • OSX has Card View (2), Snippet, and Horizontal List
  • Android has Vertical List and Snippet
  • iOS has Snippet and Card on iPhone, Card only on iPad
(3) Information Density

Why not show this information on all platforms? At a glance I would like to see as much information about my account and my notes as possible. I understand that this might be overwhelming to some users, especially newer ones, or people with fewer notes, so persistent on/off toggles (as we used to have with OSX) would be fine.

  • Windows tells me at a glance: note count, word count, character count, size date created, author, source url, location, tag, notebook, and title. http://windows.appst...11-4-19-534.png
  • OSX tells me tag, notebook, and title.
  • Android tells me note title (once I am editing a note).
  • iOS has the note title.
(4) Navigational Tools

Why not make these available on all platforms? I think it is important to be able to quickly navigate around your account. When you reach 1,000 or 10,000 notes, this becomes a real necessity. When you don't have navigational buttons, note links that once enabled you to create a personal wiki result in dead ends whenever you click on a link. And, when you don't have the ability to create note links at all, the wiki model falls apart. I would like more navigational tools, but sticking to the ones we already have, I think navigational buttons on all of the clients would be a great help.

  • Windows has back/forward buttons at the top, and on the left side notebooks, tags, and saved searches. Each notebook and tag comes with numbers telling how much is inside them. In addition, we can make note links.
  • OSX can show notebooks and tags on the left side, but no numbers. It has a Shortcuts Menu that is very useful for manually ordering your notes. In addition, we can make note links.
  • Android has Card View on the bottom and the note content at the top when not editing. No note link creation.
  • iOS has Card view. No note link creation.
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SCALABILITY

Of course, more stuff is not always better, but when it comes to some of these core features, I think it helps to have options. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to manage your account as it grows from 10 to 10,000 notes. Customizability and options = scalability.

PARITY

There is a whole lot more to say about app speed, customizability of fonts, parity in terms of rich text editing, and so forth. However, if we are just talking about making the user interfaces more productive, I think these four things are pretty important. At least, they are for my workflow / use case. I'd like to see every option / function on every platform, but I think we know that is not possible, and we also expect each platform to be tailored to the operating system. For core features, though, maybe we can aim for more parity.

SUMMARY

To sum up: as many sort options, as many view options, as much information, and as many navigational tools as possible.

What would you like to see (ideally, using the features that already exist) to make the user interfaces more productivity-oriented?

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I can't think of anything to add to the above, other than to note that there are other categories besides the four you listed:

  1. desktop vs portable
  2. iOS vs OSX vs Windows vs Android
  3. development vs innovation

I know it's restating something we've discussed before, but the first will always differ because of the physical size and features of the hardware in use; and the second because of the technicalities of making something happen in completely different operating systems. In both cases I believe that a reasonable and responsible developer (and I'm definitely classing Evernote in the top 1% here) would be trying to even out the playing field, so we'll see improvements sooner or later depending on the scheduling and the difficulty of each item.

Item 3 however (and your No 4) is where I hope Evernote will be assigning some extra time. Over the past few years a lot of users have moved from new to expert and now look for much more than 'just' (sorry guys) an external memory. We've added a huge amount of additional value* in terms of information and expertise in our own special interests and daily lives. Being able to parse that information to access and use it in different ways is now a much higher priority than it ever was before, to a steadily increasing number of users.

I suggest in this area more than any other we need better linking, better navigation and more equality between clients!

* Mainly, it should be be noted, to ourselves.

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I love EverNote. But .... It uses the "typewriter" metaphore for the notes. That is, one starts with a blank page and along the way, one has to put some sort of structure in it using bullets, indents and tabs and so on. Since one never knows what will come up (at least my brain cannot predict the path of a creative process) it becomes messy fast and it takes time to fix it. Too much time.

I have tought myself to work in a three column table. 1st column is narrow and indicates the structure of the note. 2nd column is the content and the last column is mostly empty but is there in case I need it.

You don't have to struggle with indents and bullets and stuff to forge it into shape because the table itself is a structure. I am convinced that stepping away from the 'typewriter' and introducing a table or spreadsheet structure for notes (pages) would increase productivity.

It is possible to introduce tables in the large screen versions of EverNote, but it are the small screen versions that need this structure the most, since manipulating text on the small screen is the most difficult on these versions.

Even MicroSoft has got rid of the 'desktop', time to throw the typewriter out of the Windows as well.

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3. Android tells me note title (once I am editing a note).

List view permits you to access "Note info" from that screen. It should not be very hard to expand the contents of "Note info".

There is a limit to what can be crammed onto the available real-estate, without a move on the users part to access it.

Regards,

Gary

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I can't think of anything to add to the above, other than to note that there are other categories besides the four you listed:

  1. desktop vs portable
  2. iOS vs OSX vs Windows vs Android
  3. development vs innovation

I know it's restating something we've discussed before, but the first will always differ because of the physical size and features of the hardware in use; and the second because of the technicalities of making something happen in completely different operating systems. In both cases I believe that a reasonable and responsible developer (and I'm definitely classing Evernote in the top 1% here) would be trying to even out the playing field, so we'll see improvements sooner or later depending on the scheduling and the difficulty of each item.

In this case I disagree. Some of these features used to exist on mobile and desktop, but were designed out of the apps. Others have never existed, but are variations on existing features (sorts) or features that can be found on all sorts of other apps on their respective platforms. If the Evernote teams want to do it, they can.

(1)

It seems to me that the sorting would not be such a big deal to implement if the developers wanted to it in OSX, Android, and iOS. OSX is a desktop app, so it's certainly technically feasible. The iPad used to have six sorts. Compared to something like audio notes, you'd think reverse sort order on the mobile clients would be easy to design into the app. We somehow managed to get offline / online notes (something unavailable on the desktops), but sorting by tags is beyond our reach? Of course, full parity with the desktop apps (merging, exporting, etc.) might be too much to ask, but sorting?

(2)

As for the views, these are already available on third-party imtegrations and other apps in iOS. I am certain this is feasible on mobile, if we can convince developers that it is worth while to do it. It is also possible on OSX -- lots of apps have lists.

(3)

Information density is no big deal. We used to have some of that information in OSX and iOS, but over time it has been designed away. I am not saying it was "wrong" to do it, but it certainly wasn't "right" for my workflow, and probably not very good in terms of productivity.

Item 3 however (and your No 4) is where I hope Evernote will be assigning some extra time. Over the past few years a lot of users have moved from new to expert and now look for much more than 'just' (sorry guys) an external memory. We've added a huge amount of additional value* in terms of information and expertise in our own special interests and daily lives. Being able to parse that information to access and use it in different ways is now a much higher priority than it ever was before, to a steadily increasing number of users.

Well-said.

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I would like to see better search interface. At the moment Evernote web app has the best search implementation in my view because it, for example, auto suggests Tags as you type stuff into the search bar. This is extremely useful because:

1. You don't have to manually type "tag:"

2. You don't have to know the exact name of the tag

3. It's very easy to keep further refining search results

I'd love to see this across all clients and especially iPad since that's what I'm using most of the time. Yes, you can search for Tags in the Tags screen which is great but what about those cases when you want to refine you search results and search for more than a single Tag? Or exclude some Tag? Etc.

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Another crucial feature for productivity is batch editing multiple notes, that would be great to see in official Evernote client on tablets. For now I'm using MoveEver app for this.

Here's an example

Lots of apps on iPad have this feature, it's not too complex.

Examples: Photos, iPhoto, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Mail, Pocket, etc.

This is actually a very common feature across ios apps and batch editing multiple Notes is a pretty common use case in my view.

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...And most importantly

make the iOS client work fast and responsive

Everything is important for all clients, of course, but it seems ios is just the worst.

... That's all my requests

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