Road to Kickstarter #12: Sample Week
In the words of Sid from Toy Story, “It came, it finally came! The Big One.” It’s sample week, heroes! Join us while Nick reviews the first factory-made Hero’s Planner sample, John reflects on some history around how this first sample came to be, and Kyle chimes in with a brief operations update. Here we go!
Nick & Ryan, Product
This week, after almost a year of prototyping crude samples from local UPS stores, on the back of napkins, and with home printer paper… We finally have our first factory made sample. And to cut to the chase—we are very excited.
Now—we ordered this sample with the knowledge that we will be doing a second (and perhaps third) round of sampling before we even launch our Kickstarter. That said, here are my initial impressions of The Hero’s Planner using a 10 point scoring system. And for personal reasons I won’t be using the number 7—frankly I think it’s a cop-out number.
We designed The Hero’s Planner to be about the size of a piece of printer paper (8x11in or A4). After putting a hard cover on and coiling it, that makes for a pretty large book. The planner was always going to be bigger than The Hero’s Journal, but we may have over shot it here. That said, if you have the desk space for it, it’s nice to use. I just think for the first iteration of The Hero’s Planner, we should make something a little more manageable so it can be transported and used wherever your quest takes you.
Paper: 8/10 (pen test)
We made a big decision on this. We decided to print on white paper. Up until now, every Hero’s Journal has been printed on ivory paper. But something about white paper just felt right. Seeing it in person, I think it’s the right choice. This might be silly, but to me it makes the planner feel more receptive to your plans, lists, doodles, and more. Plus, I think coloring will be a little easier. We went with a 120g white offset paper for the regular pages, and a thicker 250g offset white for the tab pages. Below is a pen test between a Pilot G2 0.7 mm tip and a King Size Black Sharpie marker since those were the most extreme examples I could find. The 120g handles the pen well, the sharpie bleeds pretty good through. Surprisingly the tab pages hold the Sharpie with some light ghosting.
I have to come clean about something… I hate coiling on planners. I imaged the Hero’s Planner with perfect binding (like The Hero’s Journals) for a long time until our internal team talked some sense into me. Since then I’ve slowly warmed up to coils, but through prototyping I’ve learned why I hated coils: when they slip out, all hell breaks loose. You can’t close the planner properly, you start bending the other coils and leaving indents on the paper. It’s enough to get me to abandon a planner forever. That said, these are pretty dang close to what I was hoping for. So far, they haven’t gotten caught on the pages. There has been some light bending/compressing on the top and bottom coils which we will need to reinforce. I could go on, but I given that I was the most worried about coils… these are good enough for prototype #001.
As awesome as this cover is, it’s just a placeholder—especially the “Project Gertrude” part. What I like about the cloth cover is that it feels like our other journals. What I don’t like about it, the black linen cover collects hair, dirt, and dust like a vacuum cleaner. We either need to pick a different color, different material, or include a lint roller. The foiling however is gorgeous. What are you thoughts on the logo design?
(Honorable mention: The elastic band satisfactorily holds the planner shut and doesn’t take up much visual space by being anchored on the back cover.)
The tabs need work. Ryan had this really cool idea to use the shadow glyphs that Yew collects each month to signify which month is which. Because this is an undated planner, we can’t print the months on the tabs, so this is a fun alternative. The idea was to add a little line where heroes could write the month, but that felt a bit sloppy. I think we will keep the glyph tab concept, but change the shape of the tabs to compliment the glyphs a bit more. Additionally, we will include stickers for each month that will fit on the tabs without covering up the glyphs.
Opening this planner feels like a rush because the printing is so striking and clear. We’ve never printed on this big of a canvas before, and we were a little nervous about what that could entail. Rest assured, the printing quality is equal if not better than our other Hero’s Journals. The only revision we need to make is the placements. On some of the pages, the coiling eats the art piece and encroaches on the weekly spread a bit.
All in all, this may seem a little harsh, since I didn’t give any 10s… but that’s because it’s not ready yet! We will take the findings mentioned here and improve on the next iteration, until we feel like we have something worthy of your quests.
What do you think of the sample?
This week, amidst the craziness of getting our first sample of The Hero’s Planner, we had a meeting with our shipping partner about prepping the warehouse for this Kickstarter. There is not much we can do at this point, but they are so great, that it reassured me that they are the perfect partner to help us get these amazing planners into your hands!
When Nick showed off the sample in our team meeting last Friday, it finally hit me like a ton of Hero’s Journals: “This is really happening, y’all. We’re making a planner!”
Did you know that we’ve officially been working on this idea for almost three years now? It all started back in 2020 when I started working in Hero Service, and I noticed that many of our heroes were requesting a weekly planner via feedback emails. I was so convinced by the suggestions that I took it upon myself to create the first super rough mock-up of a weekly spread in early 2021 (pictured below), and I shared it with the team. It was pretty janky to say the least, but I was proud of it none the less.
After a few months of personally testing it alongside my own journaling routine, we knew we had to bring this planner to life. That's when we enlisted the help of Ryan to craft some proper art and a story, and the next thing you know the team was sitting around a table at a diner in Florida brainstorming a list of possible “Otherworlds” that we could someday include in a multiverse-centric planner (Ryan: “How about we do a setting where everyone is a cat?!”). As they say, the rest is history.
The Hero's Planner is ultimately a lot more than just a weekly planner; it's a testament to the power of community and collaboration. Our team was inspired by the suggestions of our loyal heroes, and we took a chance on an idea that ultimately led to this two-year+ design journey. And now, after many trials and tribulations, we are proud to be unveiling the first official sample. I can’t wait for the next one!