A personal notes app to become more attentive

Lightweight & simple CRM for friends & family

What I did

Competitor analysis
UX/UI design
Customer support


Personal project
2019 - now

IntroductionProof of conceptUXUI designResultsPress


Being attentive can be a struggle when you're busy. It can be hard to remember birthdays, children's names, important dates, and things to follow up on. To solve this I built an iOS app called Hippo. It is a Personal CRM, in which you can add your contacts, write notes, add reminders, and track important events.

There are a lot of business CRM applications out there, but they tend to focus on sales funnels and are way too complicated for personal use. So I set out to design and develop a lightweight, simple personal notes app.


Design a lightweight way for people who tend to forget things to be more attentive to their important relations like friends, family, and colleagues.

Proof of concept

To test my ideas I built a prototype using Airtable, a no code tool. The prototype could handle notes, events and reminders all linked to people.

Limit friction

Using this I found out that it is important that entering stuff in this system should be easy, otherwise, it would be too much friction to fill it with things you want to remember.

Also, the retrieval of information should be quick and logical, so when you meet someone you can quickly glance over any notes you made about that person.

I took these learnings to heart while designing Hippo.

UX design

Sketches (contact detail)

Initial UX sketches

I sketched my ideas in a notebook, detailing the different screens, the tabbar navigation items, and the data structure.

This sketch shows the contact detail screen where a user can see all their interactions, reminders, and notes about a single contact.

Entity model

This was my first sketch for the entity model that would power the app. Interactions turned out to be the core entity, that could store almost everything that a user would want to note down.

I brainstormed ideas on how users could easily get data into the app, by adding a share extension or importing calendar events.

UX design

For the main screens of the app, I created wireframes in Sketch.

I explored different approaches to lightweight editing.

I designed multiple variations for the home tab in which I wanted to give an overview of things that are important Today but at the same time look back and forward. I settled on a design that you can see here, where Today is the main view on the page, and Upcoming / Past events are below it.

🔒 Private by design

Your notes about your dearest friends are something that you want to keep private.
I designed Hippo with privacy in mind. All the data stays on your phone or is synced to your private iCloud. There is no tracking or data sharing of any kind present in the app. And you don't have to create an account to use the app.

Final designs


Hippo uses a lot of default iOS UI items and fonts, but I still wanted to give it a unique look. I settled for a primary blue and some softer gray & black tones as the main UI colors.

For the user avatar bubbles I chose neon colors that pop, so they would catch the attention and become something to recognize the app with.

Onboarding flow

When users first launch the app, they start with a simple onboarding flow, explaining to them the subscription model of Hippo.

When they start a trial or subscribe, they are taken right into the app. Every tab has an empty state explaining the functionality it holds.

Inline editing

Things 3 is one of my favorite apps. It has a clean design, it feels lightweight yet is very powerful and well thought through.

Inspired by Things 3, I made editing in Hippo intuitive. Text can be edited directly on every screen. Adding new items is lightweight, you stay in the context of the things you want to write about.

Meeting notes

Interactions with people can be quickly entered using notes. These are usually linked to an event where you've met the person.

Integrated in iOS

Hippo uses several iOS features to improve the user experience.

Contacts can be imported from the phone's address book. Push notifications remind the user about events and birthdays. Events from the phone's calendar can be added to Hippo with just a tap.

Product launch video


I launched Hippo in 2019 via Product Hunt and social media. I also promoted it via Reddit in groups related to ADHD where I got a lot of positive feedback.

I still get positive feedback about the simplicity of the app, which is something I strive for in my designs, so I'm happy that users enjoy that.


Total downloads since 2019

✔ 200-300 monthly sessions

Average monthly sessions

User feedback

Seriously impressive. And your privacy policy is the best I’ve ever seen: all medical apps could learn from your example.
GrapeJulius - Reddit
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ - Simple, great interface and cheap! Does the job better than many high priced CRMs. Highly recommend!
- Dr Warts - App Store review
I was constantly forgetting birthdays and anniversaries until it would pop up on Facebook and I had to run out and get a gift. Not any more, the app tells you a week out when an event is coming up. I love it!- ltldmon - Reddit


🏆 iCulture app van de week

Next steps

I'm currently working on a Mac version of Hippo. That will enable users to write notes while they work and easily review large quantities of notes. This will require new UI and UX, to make use of the bigger screen, mouse, and keyboard.

The monetization strategy of Hippo needs to change. I now offer a free trial without having to subscribe, and then later ask for a subscription. It is something that confuses users, so I would like to change that in the future to a fixed pricing for the app.

Marketing personal projects is always hard. I think Hippo still has a lot of potential, but to make it a real success some serious marketing effort would be required.

Reach out

Roel van der Kraan
UX/UI designer

Related projects

See all projects >