Visual note-taking Exercise

The suggested exercise was to take visual notes about the video “How Giant Websites Design for you”, a TED Talk from Margaret Gould Stewart — Facebook’s director of product design.

In her talk she explains how different and difficult it is to design at such a massive scale, and outlines three rules that can help with such problems. I found the topic really interesting, and it must be said that the way in which she organized the content of the talk was very helpful to make this exercise.

It was the first time that I took visual notes (and also the first time that I used my new pens!), so at the beginning I had to stop the video every five minutes in order to hear the information, organize it in my head, synthesize it and write/draw at the same time. But as the video went by I started to get better at taking notes, and by the end of the video my improvement in the task was very noticeable.

My first attemp

Although maybe it wasn’t the best idea, I decided not to watch the complete video to grasp the general concept and start drawing afterwards. I wanted to learn how to take notes and to find the global structure while watching the video, a task which I found to be very challenging. To be honest, it was really complicated!

Even though I was able to write down what I considered to be the important information, there was a lack of visual order and hierarchy in my notes, and I spent too much time working on the lettering and the color (which are my weakest points).That’s why I made another attempt to simplify it and to give it a clearer structure, and now I’m more satisfied with the results.

The final outcome

Taking visual notes forces you to give structure and hierarchy to verbal information in a graphical way, and it is an extremely powerful tool to fix concepts that you hear or think. Consequently, it can be helpful in the process of communicating ideas.