Notebook Maker Baron Fig Designs A New “Tool for Thinkers” in Adobe XD

Baron Fig makes beautiful notebooks, pens, and other accessories for creatives who love to sketch, draw, or write. One visit to its website, however, and you’ll realize the company takes digital design seriously too, with beautiful images and a smooth user experience. Baron Fig’s mission is to provide “tools for thinkers,” and serve up inspiration and imagination to get creative juices flowing.

“In the case of designing and brainstorming, I think a notebook is incredible because of the freedom and simplicity it has. But in terms of social inspiration and communication, a single notebook is very closed off. It’s you in your own world,” said founder Joey Cofone.

Cofone and Baron Fig co-founder, Adam Kornfield, wanted to create a digital product that served up creative inspiration in a social setting. Cofone, a graphic and UX designer, was inspired by Adobe XD‘s development process, and decided to use Adobe’s all-in-one design and prototyping tool to create a companion app for the company.

Inspired by the iterative design process.

The Baron Fig team has designed an app that, every day, poses a question to its users. The questions are often lighthearted, things like “if you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?” Users answer the question and explain why. Answers are public, on a message board, to encourage users to interact and connect over their responses.

“It’s a lot like ‘AskReddit,’ except we are presenting you with one question per day that everyone can focus on and discuss for the day. You can also go into previous days and read all the comments, and even answer and comment on past questions. Every morning you get a notification and it just says, ‘hey the latest Muse question is live, check it out.’”

The app will replicate a similar creative exercise the Baron Fig team does in its office everyday.“

“In our morning meetings, we pose a question to the team. Things like ‘if you were a mouse, what trick would you play on humans and why?’ or ‘if your life was a movie what would the title be and why?’ The point is not just to come up with an answer, but to justify it. There’s a conversation aspect, and it gets us thinking in different ways,” said Cofone.

Cofone used Adobe XD to create the Alpha version of Muse, which he’s releasing to Baron Fig’s top clients, with plans to create a Beta version everyone can interact with and provide feedback on. He hopes the app brings increased inspiration and community to his creative customer base, and he and Kornfield are committed to refining it over the next few months, based on feedback.

“I was really inspired by what Adobe did with XD. It involved a ton of customer interaction to really hone in on what’s important. So we want to do the same thing, but in an app in your pocket, designed to inspire mostly through social interaction,” he said.

Designing, prototyping, and sharing Muse.

True to form, Cofone began drawing out a basic concept of Muse in his notebook. When he was ready to make the first iteration, he opened up Adobe XD.

“When I brought it to XD, it was less than an hour in and I had exactly what I was imagining, but real,” he said.

Baron Fig’s Muse app is intended to be a strictly mobile experience, so Cofone immediately downloaded the Adobe XD companion app on his phone. By plugging his phone into his computer and opening the XD app, he was able to design Muse on his desktop screen and see exactly what it would look like on his phone, in real time. He was then able to wire up the screens, add transitions, and create a fully-functional prototype of the app.

“I propped up my phone right underneath the computer, and was looking right at my phone’s screen while placing objects on my desktop. To top it off, the prototype feature was interactive, which was a huge bonus since I’d never been able to do that before.”

Easy collaboration with the developer.

While Cofone designed the app in Adobe XD, it was his co-founder, Kornfield, who built the app for iOS in Xcode using the same assets. The duo have created apps together before, but Cofone says using Adobe XD’s sharing feature helped them remove a major pain point in their collaborative workflow — transitions.

“The sharing feature is priceless. I sent my developer a link to the prototype and he responded right away with feedback. He often comes back to me about transitions — how one screen leads to another — because I previously couldn’t show him that in a mock up. I feel like I’ve empowered him even more to do his thing.”

After finishing the Alpha version of the app, it is now being released to rounds of Baron Fig’s customers in an open Beta. Anyone who’s interested can sign up, and they’ll be notified when it’s their turn to try Muse for themselves. It’s a simple app, but one the entire Baron Fig team believes in.

“We’re creating Muse to be a complete experiment. We’ve made a few apps before and they’ve been very utilitarian. We’ve had a note-taking app, we’ve had a scanning app, and they’ve kind of been things where we’re going to build this tool then we’re going to sell it. It’s very straightforward and it’s not very fun, it’s like a tool. The goal of Muse, like the ancient muses, is to inspire. That’s what we’ve set out to do.”

Sign up for the Beta version of Muse on Baron Fig’s website, and click here to see more of Adobe XD in action.