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 our digital planner as a hyperlinked PDF for GoodNotes is our 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 Studio software. This group of three design apps, Affinity Designer, Photo and Publisher, has some great features that we can put to good use. But what page dimensions should we use?

GoodNotes Page Sizes
Our second decision is the GoodNotes app. GoodNotes has many built-in planner page sizes (see screenshot). The GoodNotes Standard size is 2386 px by 1491 px at 264 dpi. This converts roughly to 9 inches by 5.6 inches. The GoodNotes Letter size is 8.5 by 11 inches. Let's use the popular letter page size for this project.

The next decision to be made is between squared or rounded corners for our cover, dividers and pages. Let's begin by using rounded corners and keep the option to switch to 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 inches tall and 11 inches.

With the landscape or horizontal orientation, we can have both 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 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 size is divisible by 8. Why does this matter. I mention this only because the 8 px grid is very popular with UI (user interface) designers.

I started using an 8 px 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 or point 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 for working with whole pixels.

Design a Digital Planner in Affinity Studio - Tutorial Series Index

Screenshots used by permission of Serif (Europe) Ltd. This article is not endorsed by Serif Ltd.

Human Interface Guidelines for iOS

Intro to The 8-Point Grid System

The 8-Point Grid

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2019 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.