Pear Note 2: perfect for stakeholder interviews

Now, I love Silverback just as much as the next User Experience Professional, but it’s not a Swiss Army Knife – it’s designed to do one thing really well, and that’s recording users’ screens in usability tests. What about situations when you don’t need to record a screen? In stakeholder interviews, for example, the value lies in the conversation and the notes you take, not what’s on screen.

Well, I’ve been trialing Pear Note this week and it’s very neat. Here’s how it works: when you start an interview, you hit the record button and you start typing notes. If you’re like me, your notes are likely to be full of typos, gaps and rough shorthand – nothing like accurate transcript of the interview. The point of Pear Note is that it makes this into a non-issue. Every single character you type is time-stamped and linked to the audio recording.

This means that if you come across a poorly transcribed chunk when you’re reading your notes after the interview, you can simply click on a word and listen to the audio that was recorded at that point. This mixes the best of both worlds – you have text which is great for scan readability, and you have audio, which is great for quotability. (Pear Note records video too if you want it, but you’ll need an external webcam to point at your interviewee).

Here’s the other killer feature. You can publish your notes and audio as html & mp4, straight into a shared dropbox folder. This gives you a nifty web version of the desktop UI, which means anyone in your project team can open up the html page and jump through the audio and notes. Often this wont be necessary, but it’s great to know that you’ve got the assets on-hand in such a readily accessible manner.

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