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Dossier iPadOS App

Dossier is Evernote meets Pinterest. It’s a digital pinboard where you can save text, images, links, and files in various formats and organize them in collections. It requires a stylus and uses Dropbox for storage.

Our Role
Information Architecture, User Flows, Wireframes, Interface Design, Icon Design
Year
2018
Tools
Sketch, Flinto
Dossier collection view

Challanges

Stylus required

We utilize two input methods, hands (including ten fingers) and a stylus, often used together.

Put your hands all over it

Dossier is designed with a minimalist approach, providing users with an uncluttered interface that emphasizes content. With almost zero chrome, the user’s content takes center stage, occupying the entire screen. Additionally, the interface features only a few buttons, each of which can be activated with a single tap.

No-wait commands

There is no need for long-press or other delay in the Dossier command vocabulary. Moving a card via one-finger drag is an instant operation, much like sliding index cards on a table.

Read the manual

Dossier’s main menu includes a cheatsheet with the full list of available commands. Instead of using long-press context menus on mobile apps, you can copy, paste, and delete by drawing a stylus glyph.

Dossier cheet sheet

When you use a command in the app, a flash notice will appear on screen that matches the name of the command from the cheatsheet. For example, when you draw an X over a card, the “delete card” notice will appear along with a disappearing animation for the card. Similarly, drawing an X over a page in the collection overview will display the “delete page” notice.

Annotations in Dossier take the form of freeform sketches, similar to drawing on a whiteboard with a black marker.

Copy/Paste Annotation Deleting a card

Watch the complete tour in this 2-minute demo video:

Findings

Our team conducted an internal test of the Dossier app to evaluate its usefulness for different purposes such as project brainstorming, travel planning, meal prep notes, and an office remodel project. We found that it offered a practical and effective alternative to other similar apps such as Evernote, Pinterest, or Google Docs, particularly for tasks that require organizing thoughts and creating plans.

We also conducted a test with four external users, and observed that they initially struggled with some of the mobile app conventions such as one-finger swipe. However, as they consulted the cheatsheet and experimented with the commands, they were able to adapt to the tool quickly, within just a few minutes. We concluded that the learning curve for Dossier was surprisingly small compared to the capabilities it offers relative to other similar iPad apps.

Dossier collections menu Dossier page view Dossier preview screen

Conclusion

Our team embarked on a mission to challenge some commonly used mobile design practices in order to make the tablet a speedy and accurate tool. The outcome was a command vocabulary that operates without any delay, stylus glyphs, a flash notice to confirm the user's actions, and a mini-manual presented in the form of a cheatsheet.

Based on our initial findings, we firmly believe that the tablet has the potential to become a feasible platform for creative professionals. However, achieving this goal may require app developers to detach themselves from certain assumptions that stem from the world of consumption computing.