Case Studies

Industry: Tech company (mobile apps)
Location: New York, NY
Customer Since: 2014
Use Case: App Redesign


FiftyThree, Inc. is a technology company that specializes in mobile tools for creation. They are the makers of Paper (Apple's 2012 iPad App of the Year) and Pencil, a digital stylus.


When FiftyThree decided to release a version of Paper for the iPhone, they had two choices: either shrink down the existing app to fit on an iPhone screen, or redesign the app to take full advantage of how users interact with an iPhone instead of an iPad. Rather than take the easy route of doing a smaller (and perhaps less useful) version of the app, FiftyThree chose to tailor Paper to the iPhone. It required learning how users' notetaking behavior would be different on an iPhone versus an iPad, and collecting relevant usage information from notetakers in a short period of time.


Applying rigorous, multidisciplinary test processes, FiftyThree used AYTM to conduct online market research studies and learn about respondents' approaches to notetaking, with or without smartphones. Those who use smartphones to take notes were also asked about their notetaking habits on their devices, and what changes they would most want to see in notetaking apps.

Among the many valuable findings from their research, FiftyThree's investigations revealed the key insight that photos and screenshots constitute an increasingly important part of the notetaking process for smartphone users. "That's a huge behavior change", said CEO and cofounder Georg Petschnigg in the interview he gave to Fast Company, contrasting the experience to that of working closely with the OneNote team at Microsoft, whose focus was almost entirely on text input. Armed with this knowledge, FiftyThree redesigned Paper's user interface (UI) from the ground up, with an increased emphasis on visual notetaking and the ability to annotate and organize photo notes. The new capabilities have delighted and engaged a rapidly growing iPhone user base around the world.


Based on FiftyThree's findings via AYTM, the Paper UI overhaul earned the app rave reviews from publications such as Fast Company and Wired Magazine, and fueled the growth of Paper's multimillion-strong base of loyal users.

Put It On Paper from FiftyThree on Vimeo.