Note taking improvement


Hello UX types. I’ve been away for a bit, but have been pretty busy. I’ve been starting up the UX program officially within the company. Things have gone great so far, and everyone is very pleased. But I’ve found a problem that I need to tackle and thought that you might have some advice.

Now that I have to go “into the field” to speak with most of my users, I find that I have to take a TON of notes. The bad part is, it’s a huge weakness. I don’t write nearly as fast as I need to and I know that information is getting lost. I want to fix that. I can’t record anything due to the nature of what i do, and they can’t come to my office, so I’m stuck with notes.

Any techniques that you’ve had success with?


This is something that I had to work on a lot in my career. Now I only take the most pertinent notes. I spend my time listening mostly and then only write something down when I know it’s a really critical point.

I think a lot of this is about trusting yourself to know the key issues. Even if you take no notes, I’d wager a bet that after a day’s research you could write up the 10 key issues off the top of your head.

If you can believe that, then you really only need notes for specific details or user quotes that you might not properly remember. I hope that helps


Note taking is one of those skills that schools don’t often teach, but is crucial to success in the real world. I take diligent notes, but I strive to keep them effective. A few pointers I might offer:

  1. Keep your notes in outline format. This hierarchical structure will help you keep track of the different topics and finer points discussed in each meeting. There are other systems that may work for you, but this is the one I’ve had most success with.

  2. Write only what’s necessary. It’s tempting to try and write everything down. Your notes should be enough to jog your memory about a conversation, not a perfect record of what was said, save for the absolutely crucial points.

  3. Doodle. I know it sounds weird, but there’s a hefty body of evidence that doodling activates your mind, focuses your attention, and stimulates critical thinking. It’s gotten to the point that some people are now advocating for visual note taking over a more conventional approach in the classroom.

  4. Record the meetings. Let’s be honest-- you will never remember everything you hear, regardless of how good your note taking is. Every smartphone today has access to a library of voice recording software, and digital recorders can be bought for a reasonable price. Cloud hosting services allow you to upload those files to a place where you can access them from anywhere. If you’re truly worried about missing something, this is an excellent backup method. Just make sure that you’ve cleared it with whoever is running the meeting before turning the recorder on.

Here’s hoping this is at least a little helpful! Let me know if I can answer any additional questions.


Thank you for the responses!

I guess this is just going to be a practice thing. I just want to make sure I don’t miss those big elements of the conversation while focusing on the wrong things. Recording would be great; but I work for the military and can’t record or even talk about much.

Again, thanks, and will keep you posted. :slight_smile:


Audio record everything or have someone take notes for you :slight_smile:


This is a new app that’s coming soon, it seems like it transcribes the recorded user testing audio into notes.

It also lets you bookmark those all important moments in real time for easy location later.

Very much looking forwards to giving this a spin :grinning:

Not much use if you cannot record sorry, but interesting idea nonetheless.