My Love for Evernote

In this era of technology, I am constantly absorbing content. Evernote’s mission is to help its users remember everything through an ambitious pursuit of productivity and learning. If you asked me if this was possible before I began using their product, I would have said no. That’s no longer the case. I once learned that there are certain tricks to memory: write things down, make things visual, and build associations and relationships. Evernote inherently employs those three concepts through its product, and in turn, makes its mission attainable.

I believe that every product should fill a need. With the incredible influx of technology today, it is rare that the new app you download or the new service you subscribe to alleviates a real pain or provides an essential utility. That’s why my discovery and adoption of Evernote is of particular interest. It filled a void that was eating away at my productivity. I needed the means to merge note-taking with the aggregation of links, images, articles, and notes. I was sick of fumbling through word docs, bookmarks and links to backup talking points at a presentation or prep for a paper. My brain was screaming from the inefficiency. Evernote took away the pain. Today, I use this incredible product to take notes in my classes, to research for my social impact initiative for autism, to research and design a CubeSat, and to collect design inspiration for some personal projects. Evernote helped me prepare and write this very blog post. And that is just the beginning.

I believe that integration is key. New products and apps don’t exist in a vacuum. Without essential connections into the devices and products I already use daily, Evernote would be much less valuable. This product has instead woven an invisible cloth through my devices — each piece has turned into merely a point on a larger network. I have eliminated the need for a daily backup to a USB drive and I can go entirely mobile without worrying where I would need to access notes regarding work, school, or personal projects. This is the function of all cloud storage systems; however, Evernote takes it one step further by providing the utility and interface to add, change and manipulate these files, and of course make new ones, from anywhere.  Evernote has also taken the step to embrace developers by opening the The Evernote API and other tools to the public, allowing other apps to integrate with my Evernote data.

I believe that form follows function and environment. The user experience built into the Evernote program is seamless, and provides many different options for how you want to view and organize your files. This allows you to customize the experience based on the way you typically work.  It employs a hierarchy that is intuitive for the user because it is inspired by objects in the physical world: notebooks for jotting down notes, clipping websites, or storing photos, stacks that act as folders for organization, and tags for grouping content across notebooks. Everything in Evernote, all images, articles and documents, are made completely searchable, and can be referenced between notes. This is an incredible feature that has increased my efficiency tenfold. Furthermore, Evernote has designed its product to look native to each device and function differently depending on its environment. This is an ambitious undertaking that shows the quality of the team and their passion for the application. Evernote Business, for instance, is built for more sharing and collaboration that comes with its users working on team projects.

I believe that the digital is only made better by its marriage with the physical.  Evernote has embraced this concept as a part of their value proposition, and the CEO Phil Libin recently said in an interview, “We declared a ceasefire between pen and digital.”  Technology has made an incredible impact on the way we live, but I do not believe we will ever live 100% digitally. Striking a careful balance between the use of devices and their analog counterparts is a considerable task for many, and Evernote makes it easy through a variety of products. Its partnership with Moleskine or 3M has found this happy place, where you can work out of a notebook or on post-its and still send them to a cloud for ubiquitous access and seamless integration with your digital notes. These are just some of the new products that Evernote offers in its new market, which demonstrates its commitment to working within this gray area where neither physical nor digital fully reigns. By blurring this line between two very different worlds, Evernote lets users work effortlessly between them.

I believe Evernote can get better. Do I use Evernote everyday, multiple times a day? Yes. Does it have every single feature that I want? No. Should it? Not necessarily. Evernote has the potential to go many different directions, and should only do so under careful consideration of the features that would bring the most value to their users while maintaining their mission. As a productivity app, I believe there are some distinct pieces that could be improved upon and taken advantage on to increase efficiency and provide value. As an example, the Skitch application allows you to markup clipped images, web pages, and notes, but requires the download of its separate program. By building this more seamlessly into its interface and eliminating the need to maintain another running app, the efficiency of Evernote would increase substantially. I also believe strengthening their word processing and formatting tools would be an addition welcomed by many of their users.

By incorporating more time management tools into its product, Evernote could better aid PMs in their Evernote Business product. This could utilize the company’s partnership with Moleskine and its line of planners to sync notes and to-dos with calendar dates beyond the existing “reminders” function. A London design agency did something similar — a lego wall calendar that syncs with Google. There’s also a unique opportunity to add a Gantt chart feature to replace the existing miserable UX involved with making them in Project and the free Gantt software. You would be surprised how many people I see making these timelines in Google Docs to avoid this pain!

Evernote fights an endless battle to help users pare down and retain important information from a constant barrage of content and media. Miraculously, it succeeds in this challenge. Evernote exemplifies an incredible product because of its intuitive interface and accessibility across multiple platforms, its bridge between the physical and digital universes, and its inherent value as a utility. This harmonious mixture creates a truly breathtaking product which exceeds the difficult goal of creating and maintaining critical relationships between content, devices, moments, and physical objects. I am truly impressed.

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