I have mentioned a few times that GET TO WORK BOOK™ was designed by Jolby and Friends out of Portland, Oregon. I came to them with the beginnings of a plan and the start of a vision. And they turned around the book design. It was about six months of working together and without a doubt (from my angle!) worth all the effort, money and time.
Today, I wanted to talk a bit more about what that process was like and show you some of the back and forth during the design process.
I'd have to ask them, but I think I was a fairly average customer to work with, with many pros and cons. I had a really clear vision for how I wanted this to look (both a pro and a con). I was a quick responder (pro). I presented organized feedback (pro). I felt like this book was my child (con). I make decisions fast (pro) BUT I was super intense (like twelve rounds of proofs) about how the M-S columns looked like (con).
Pretty early on I knew that the book would be called GET TO WORK BOOK™. I am not a big fan of the term "planner" and I wanted something that reflected ACTION, not plans. The other titles I considered were "Dream by Day Planner" (I have no idea. I also think that was already taken) and "The Reality Planner" but google searches for that term produced a lot of realtors helping you plan your home buying. I paid $895 to start the Trademark process and we were set.
The first things we worked on were the cover and the M-S columns. We figured the cover would set the tone for the book and it totally did.
You can see the first three cover mock-ups! HOW DIFFERENT RIGHT!??
These were not finished designs, just starting off points to see where I wanted to head. I liked that check graphic on the red a lot but there were issues... the color for example, could we do it on chipboard? Also, it felt a little too "leaned-back."
So then I got these mock ups... the check would be pressed into the page. Better! But I didn't need a seal and wanted to see it smaller.
Yep, here's where it came together. I picked that sixth one and we made a few changes (dropped the "the" for example and adjusted the font) and then we had cover. Without meaning to, we also gave my brand a logo - that check mark. That was HUGE and basically "free" since we didn't set out to logo design.
After the cover, I knew that the weekly columns were going to be the hardest part to get right. To me, how the days look on the page are really the make or break of planner design.
Here were the first two shots at the column layouts. Having something "extra" that recapped or planned your week aside from just the days was important to me. There was a lot going on, which made sense because in lot of my original inspiration there was a lot going on. But I panicked when I saw the color.
Here's my theory on color - if I give you a black and white book, you can add color. You can use colored pens, highlighters, paints, chalk, whatever, to add color. But if I give you a blue and yellow book, you're stuck. Blue and yellow are now part of your plans, regardless of whether or not you like them. Color is great. I love color. But I wanted the book to blend into your life and black and white made the most sense. (In the feedback I have received so far, about 90% of you who are sharing your thoughts agree with me.)
So we scrapped color.
The columns took about 2 months to get right. Each time there was a re-design I would print it out, staple it into my existing planner and use it... making sure the spacing felt right and the flow was completely natural. I was also looking for the design that just clicked. This (is WAY too much detail and) is an excerpt of an email I sent after the first round:
8 column pages :
- I've attached a few photos (above) of how I used the pages for this week and next. (I printed and stapled them right into my current planner) I immediately realized there needs to be faint lines down each of the day of the week columns. Let's do 20 in each column.
- Let's go ahead and add in the dates to see how those look.
- I really like the alternating light and dark columns that you had set up (can I see this in gray, black and white?).
- Love the how the five boxes at the top of each column are set off - would love to see just three though.
- I think we can do away with the "DAILY'S" "MISC" and "BIG THINGS". Note space at the bottom is awesome though. I thought it might be interesting to set that off as "BRAINSTORM." What if that section was lightly gridded?
- While I love the idea of "looking back at last week", I found it more useful to highlight what's upcoming THIS WEEK. Love the arrow graphic on the top left, would like the text to say "this week ACTION ITEMS" then have three boxes down the column with a check box built in for when you're done. I tried to mock this up on my sample book.
- You had some text in the bottom left and I liked that... but I don't know how practical it is to come up with all the different text for each week. I also don't want to give up usable space... I wonder if that could just be added to the brainstorm section and lightly gridded as well.
It went on like this for weeks. I would request small changes. I would try it out. I would re-adjust. Looking back through the samples makes my heart race a bit. This was an intense part of the process because to me, it felt like the most important.
As you can see, I did a lot of handwritten altering to try and find something that worked. I was looking for the layout that didn't look over-designed. The layout where my eyes knew where to look instinctively. I sucked at this part. I couldn't explain what I wanted and it was frustrating for all of us I think.
But finally, J&F pulled a rabbit out of their hat and nailed exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. Round of applause and craft beers on me.
The rest came together quickly once we crossed that hurtle. I had clear sketches for how I expected the Reflect & Goal set and Project Breakdown pages (shown above) to look and they turned out really great.
And I had a really awful idea for the tear out calendar pages that they completely resigned to look amazing (shown above).
They knocked out the monthly calendars and extra stuff like the title page and brainstorm pages. It was easy to sign off on all that great design.
I've already shared the illustration process but that was by far the easiest and fastest part. I love each of the 12 designs so much. They are versatile too. Right now, I own the license for the illustrations to appear in the book, but I plan to purchase the right to create posters (and maybe more 3D products like cell phone cases, notebooks and mugs too) (Some of this is hopefully coming to an online shop near you next fall).
Originally we thought J&F would handle the video, photos and website for me but time and budget constraints meant that I did that part myself. This was a tough decision, but I think for this first book, it was the right one. I know what I'm doing enough with HTML and really I just needed a simple walk-through video. For the 2016 version, I'd love a 90 second video trailer filmed on a real camera, not an iPhone. You know the type, you've seen 100 of them...catchy music, soft focus background, feel-good feeling...the works. I'm sure in the years to come the website will be updated, but for now, it's doing it's job and was free.
To stay on budget, I also did all the paper promotion (business cards, stickers, packing tape(!) and thank you cards) myself (using the killer checkmark logo and the same fonts). As those pieces start rolling in I will be sure to share with you.
This was by far the biggest group project I have worked on and the stakes felt much higher than they did in my college business classes. I have nothing but positive things to say. Working with a team pushed me further than I would have gone to turn this into something great. I know me. I know what I can do. Now I know J+F and without a doubt they were able to do so much more.
What made this work (from both sides) was super quick turnaround and really clear feedback. We used pinterest boards to share design concepts and google docs and spreadsheets to stay on track with notes and where we were at. When all else failed, we face-timed. I don't think I cried once which is a record for me and huge projects. ;)
The result is better than I imagined because at the beginning I couldn't even imagine it. I just wanted to fill a need. I wanted a planner that got out of your way and helped you work. We made it into something real and I'm so happy with it.