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Baidu LifeNote

LifeNote  For Young People

A Mobile Journal for Young People to Record Their Daily Life Better


Baidu LifeNote is a mobile journal for young people to record daily life. It is an innovative side project of input method team, which we designed from scratch. Our agile team included only 1 UX designer(Me), 1 UI designer, 1 PM intern, 2 developers. We tried to add voice function and plan some other innovative designs and features into the new journal product, to give the users a better experience. In the entire project, designers played key roles from start to the end.


​Improve User Engagement

​As a side project, its main goal was not to increase the user base but to improve user engagement. 

As we know, keeping a journal is not a general habit of general users. The product type determines the limited quantity of users. The main users are from ​Baidu Input Method because most users download a full version after they experience the lite version in the input method.

How to improve users' engagement? Our specific goals were to:

1. create a better platform for keeping journals than other products.

​2. encourage users to leave something important about their life here.

My Role

​As the only UX designer, I designed the whole experience of Lifenote for several versions from April to December 2014.​ 


Besides, I worked as a product planner with the other product manager intern to work out specific features as well.


Also, I helped visual designers with motion design.


Review of Like Products

What my review focused on was not only what the products look like now, but also what happened to the like products in the past. For me, studying the past experience of competitors was more important to make product strategies. Then I did the review of Flava and Awesome Notes which were the two popular journal products in the US APP Store for a few years at that time.

Early Insights

  • ​Version Historty

  • Key Functions

  • UI Change

  • Features

Be More Than Diary, Think about Additional Features

Users might be bored with only an electronic diary. Other features that make users record better are welcome, which are also attractions to users.


Aim to The Core - Record Life, Avoid Complexity 

Flava and Awesome Notes have lots of advanced functions, including calendar, drawing, etc. However, it makes the journal complicated. Are they useful for the audience?


Though Decorations Are Attractive, Use Them Smartly

Both Flava and Awesome Notes have lots of functions about decorations or DIY. They are interesting but sometimes annoying and confusing.


Note and To-do Are Twins

If users write down some future things of their lives, they might want to make a reminder. A note is a kind of to-do, so they are twins. That may influence the definition and planning of a product.



Post-90s Generation

Before the first version of LifeNote, we thought our audience might be very diverse, young, and old. It might be similar to the audience of Baidu Input Method. However, after the first version released, I asked for the real data of user profiles. The findings were out of thinking.


1. Over 80% of our audience were born after 1990, in China we called them the post-90s generation. The user profiles were totally different from the Input Method, even our users are from the Input Method. 


2. The behaviors were not always active. Many users were active in the first few days, then forgot to come back writing things.


Then we made significant changes - focused on the design for young ages, especially those post-90s. Furthermore, we wanted to see stable users' behavior data of those post-90s people.



Desktop Research & Interview

By doing desktop research of our core users, I wanted to get further understandings of their traits, behaviors, and potential thoughts. Besides, I did a few informal interviews with our real users online, tried to get some details of their good/bad moments and current workflow as well. It helped me to find out opportunities to solve the problems.


Tags of Themselves

sand clock.png

Mobile Phones for Recreation, Study, And Social

post-90s users, especially 95s, use mobile phones for three purposes: recreation, study, and social. They know how to manage time for these things.



Diverse Interests

They have many interests, including games, readings, cartoons, star-chasings, fitness, etc.



Don't Have Long-Term Time for Recreation

They often prefer casual games for recreation for the reason that they don't have enough long-term time.



Have Lots of Opinions, Willing to Share

They are most interested in new things and willing to discuss and share opinions. 



Pursue Personalization

They have the ability to play with mobile phones and like to do it. They avoid the normal experience. Have strong intentions to personalize their stuff, to release their emotions, encourage themselves, and show personalities.

Pain Points


Mistakes in Voice Function 

1. A few users mentioned that speech recognition sometimes made mistakes, which resulted in the manual modification. These situations drove them crazy.


2. They thought of the microphone icon as a function to record their voice. When they found their audio wasn't kept, they were frustrated.



Limited Functions, Easily Boring

1. A few users thought the first version of LifeNote was very simple but not attractive enough. They just tried 1-2 times to use it. The functions were similar to the system-provided notes APP. Why did they use the new one?


​Simplicity And Playability Are Core Motivations

According to the research and analysis above, I discovered that two points were primarily important for users whether going to keep using the APP or not. I also regard the two points- simplicity and playability, as the design principles throughout the entire task.



Simplicity: Make It Easy to Use

Making a journal or note is a behavior cost users not little. A complicated process or experience might make them impatient. 

Besides, our target users often have fragmented time. If I design the APP easy enough to use, it will improve their efficiency and experience.

Playability: Make It Fun to Use

Fun will motivate users to open the APP more. 

Young users are especially easy to get attracted by interesting stuff and experience.


Think From Record to Review, Find Opportunities

To make the insights deeper, I went through the user flow from record to review journals and notes. I gave myself How Might...questions:

"  How might (target users) (core behavior) (design principles)?  "

1. How might the post-90s generation record a journal easily and happily?

2. How might the post-90s generation review their journals easily and happily?

3. How might the post-90s generation remember to review their journals?

4. How might the post-90s generation remember to record journals?

5. How might Lifenote be much easier and more joyful to use?

6. How might time impact journals?

7. How might theme impact journals?






Voice to Text





Journal & Note





by Time

by Content












somethin routines



Template, Slide, Time Curve...

Then I turned the brainstorming result into a new product functionality plan. I proposed some new but important functions to the product intern with reasons.



Most frequent notes. Something routine. Most easy way to record. Like a series.

Time Curve

Easy to review journals of the same theme together. Easy to notice changes.


Review photos like watching a movie.


The template is a much easier way to record journals of different themes. I thought of every theme template as a sheet with different modules. When recording something routine, I hope users can tap some elements to express their thoughts instead of typing long sentences.

According to the interests of post-90s, I thought they might most like three types of stuff in their lives:

1. Fitness

2. Love

3. Study

Time Curve

Furthermore, theme journals are often like series, it will last for a long time. Users are possible to review the former records. If we can gather the series of the same theme and show them to the users, it might help users better review the past stuff, and notice some changes. So cool, right?


The photos in the journals are always most important and willing to keep. Get them out and play them as slides with music. To give the users a better way to recall the memories.


Give users a way to sort their journals. Make it easier to find journals they need.


It can not only transfer voice to text, but also keep the original audio of users. Even keep some sound users prefer to record.

Meanwhile, it's a complementary method to solve the error problem of voice recognition.


Consistent Frameworks, Elegant Theme Cards


Visual Design: Junjiu Ying/ Lei Li

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