Google Keep. A smashing example of great product design

Google Keep is a note taking app for Android, iOS and the Web and I’m convinced that it’s a far better product than it’s competition.

Google Keep — A note taking application from Google

For a start, It knows who it’s real competition is…

Firstly, the whole interface for Google Keep is built around the concept of sticky notes. Rather than creating a to do list, the user is encouraged to enter text or add an image which is then created into a virtual sticky note. These objects can then be moved around and organised, much like you would with sticky notes on a wall.

The beauty of this design is that it’s making it’s real competitor clear from the get go, not other note taking apps but sticky notes. People are far more likely to write down quick notes on a sticky note or even a piece of paper. For that reason, the app competes with this physical way of note taking and focuses it’s interface and features on this. We will touch on these points later but the above results in a useful and easy to use app.

It’s actually usable

It seems that almost every other note taking app out there is trying to be much more than it is. From shopping list functionality to a private diary, they are trying to be more useful but are taking away the focus from their core function, simply to just take notes.

As I’ve mentioned, Google keep features a sticky note interface that’s not only simply but easy to learn as you interact with the interface in much the same way as you would with sticky notes on a wall. You write them and then organise them by picking them up and placing them elsewhere. Alternative apps give you multiple ways of visualising your notes but in my opinion, all they are really doing is distracting you from the apps sole purpose.

It focuses on personal value

Some apps try to make the note taking experience collaborative by adding social features. Microsoft OneNote for example lets multiple people work on one note together and includes comment functionality that lets teams have discussions on specific notes. While people (especially businesses) might find this useful, it again distracts from the purpose of the app. Google keep has limited it’s functionality to a simple note taking app which offers personal value, not social value. In doing this, the app is simple and therefore easy to pickup and use.

And to conclude

With Google Keep, I know what to expect as it has positioned itself excellently. If I have a note to take, I open up Keep, take the note and then close the app. If I need to find a note, I open up the app, search through the notes, find the note I need and then close the app.

I’ve had other note taking apps sat on my phone before and while they may have been very useful to me if I spent the time considering what I could use them for and learning their features, I never put in that effort. Google keep has never asked anything of me, just write a sticky note and it will be there when you need it, nothing more, nothing less.

That’s why Google Keep is an excellent example of great product design.