Designing a Digital Planner - First Steps

Designing a Digital Planner - First Steps
So you want to make your own digital planner for GoodNotes. But, where do you start? I've done a lot of research and I've found that, so far, there aren't any set rules. Each digital artist has their own preferences. However, there are a few common factors.

Hyperlinked PDF
How to export your digital planner as a hyperlinked PDF for GoodNotes is your first decision. Many artists use Keynote, Google Slides, InDesign or Powerpoint to create their planners. After the release of Affinity Publisher by Serif, I decided it would be a great software to use for this project. Affinity Publisher is the newest addition to Serif's Affinity Suite software. This group of three design apps, Affinity Designer, Photo and Publisher, has some great features that we can put to good use.

GoodNotes Page Sizes
What page dimensions should we use? Our second decision is which GoodNotes page size to use. GoodNotes has many built-in planner page sizes (see screenshot). The GoodNotes Letter size is 8.5 by 11 inches (2244 x 2904 pixels at 264 resolution). Let's use the popular letter page size for this project.

The next decision to be made is between squared or rounded corners for your cover, dividers and pages. We can keep our template options open by setting up rounded corners, which we can turn off for square corners.

Portrait or Landscape Orientation
Planners come in two orientations (see screenshot). With the portrait or vertical orientation, we will have only a single page view. Using the GoodNotes Letter page size, a vertical planner page can be as large as 8.5 by 11 inches. With the landscape or horizontal orientation, we can have either a one-page or a two-page spread. With the single-page spread, our page can be up to 8.5 inches tall and 11 inches wide. With a two-page spread, each page can be up to 5.5 inches wide.

Side Binding
Spiral and disc binding are the most popular. With this binding, the pages are held together by a metal coil or plastic discs (see screenshot).

8 by 8 Grid
As we all know by now, GoodNotes is an app for the iPad. Depending on your iPad model, the screen size varies but there is one thing that is standard. Each screen pixel size is divisible by 8. Why does this matter. I mention this only because the 8 pixel grid is very popular with UI (user interface) designers.

I started using an 8 pixel grid when I was designing a few mobile apps. And, I found that the grid really helped in my workflow. To get more information about the 8 pixel grid, image size and resolution guidelines for mobile apps, use the links below.

Using the 8 pixel grid is optional. But we will want to work in whole pixels, as mobile devices do not like partial pixels. Lucky for us, the Affinity software has several features that make working in whole pixels an easy task.

Human Interface Guidelines for iOS

Intro to The 8-Point Grid System

The 8-Point Grid

Design a Digital Planner in Affinity Suite - Tutorial Series Index
More Affinity Suite Tutorials
Screenshots used by permission of Serif (Europe) Ltd. This article is not endorsed by Serif Ltd.

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