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Design Thinking ICM512

Stop the Switch

How a simple design thinking exercise eliminated my need for so many project-management tools

I am an extremely organized person. I love taking notes, making goals, planning trips, and tracking budgets. But right now, I feel like I am using way too many apps to help me manage my (not so complicated) life. All-day, every day I find myself switching between Notebook, Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Invision Boards, Toggl, and ClickUp, to name a few. Although I like each app individually, the accumulation of them is exhausting. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve visited one app for a resource to realize I saved it somewhere else. If I were to use a design thinking statement to express my current state of emotions, it would be:

My plethora of project management tools makes me feel overwhelmed and scattered because my needs for simplicity and organization are not met.

Tapping into a UX designer’s curious and optimistic mind, I turned this challenge into an opportunity. I conducted a competitive analysis between a product I already use (ClickUp) vs. a product I just discovered (Notion). My goal was to determine whether there was a better solution for my needs or if Notion is just another tool in the toolbox.

ClickUp and Notion. How will these products compare to each other and to my user needs?

I’ve been using ClickUp for over a year now and have found it useful for managing my projects, tasks, and deadlines. Notion is a competitive wiki-based project management tool that is great for storing documents, but I wasn’t not sure if its project managing capabilities would compare to ClickUp. I evaluated each product based on Don Norman’s three levels of emotional design from his book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things (linked below). Together these emotions form a lasting impression on your viewpoint of a product and brand. 

Visceral Emotions

The visceral stage is your first impression. It’s what you think and how you react automatically and unconsciously. For a lot of products, this pertains to aesthetics.

Behavioral Emotions

The behavioral stage occurs when you interact with the product. How are the functionality, usability, and reliability impacting your ability to navigate and fulfill tasks?

As Don Norman explains, “Confuse or frustrate the person who uses the product and negative emotions result. But if the product does what is needed, if it is fun to use and easy to satisfy goals with it, then the result is warm, positive affect.”

From Norman’s book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things

Reflective Emotions

Lastly, the reflective stage is how you feel in retrospect—this is where emotions can make the most significant impact on a person’s outlook on the experience. What sticks in your memory, and does it impact your perception and interest in using the product again? Will you share your experience with others, and will it be positive or negative?

Using criteria within each of these stages, I examined both products closely and recorded my observations. It was surprising to witness how much emotion played into my analysis, and ultimately my final decision to choose one product over another. If you are interested in viewing my detailed analysis, please click on the file below. It might help you decide which product is right for you, too.

The Final Verdict

After conducting my analysis, I have switched to Notion. Notion has not only replaced ClickUp but eliminated my need to manage several other apps as well! I discovered that Notion is better-equipped for streamlining my personal, academic, and freelance life—its functions and usability were easy and pleasant to use. It is also fun! Notion’s customizable features bring a level of excitement and creativity to project planning that I’ve never experienced before—this was a pleasant surprise that elevated my entire outlook on the product.

Notion’s customizable features bring a level of excitement and creativity to project planning that I’ve never experienced before—this was a pleasant surprise that elevated my entire outlook on the product.

Meanwhile, Clickup felt too robust for my work while simultaneously lacking the features I needed. Maybe ClickUp is better equipped for larger teams or corporations, and that’s okay—no product or brand can be everything to everyone. I’m just happy I found a product that works for me. 

After this exercise, I revisited my original design thinking statement and updated it to reflect my new and improved feelings:

My Notion Project Management App makes me feel happy, acknowledged, and empowered because my needs for simplicity, creativity, and organization are met.

If you’d like to learn more about designing for emotion, I’d like to suggest the following books. If you’re curious to learn more about applying feelings/needs statements to design thinking, you can check out my article here.

Suggested Books:

Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman

Designing For Emotion by Aaron Walter

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