How to Design and Make a Digital Planner

Designing and making a digital planner is an efficient way to organize routine and track goals. With the abundance of online tools and apps, you can customize your planner to suit personal or professional needs. 

creating digital planner

Whether you're planning a work schedule, outlining travel itineraries, or noting family events, a digital planner can be a versatile tool to manage time effectively.

And if you're an online entrepreneur, you can sell digital planners as a digital product.

Creating your digital planner doesn't require advanced design skills either. Platforms like Canva, Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Adobe Express have streamlined the process, offering user-friendly interfaces for anyone to craft a planner that makes daily management a breeze.

You can choose from a variety of tools to add personal touches, such as color schemes, fonts, and imagery that make the planner truly unique. 

Basics of Digital Planners

A digital planner is essentially your classic pen-and-paper organizer reimagined for the digital age. It's a PDF or app designed with hyperlinks and interactive elements, allowing you to navigate between dates and tasks with ease.

Think of it as your personal time management tool, on your digital device.

What’s Inside a Digital Planner:

  • Calendar Pages: Just like a physical planner, you’ve got your days, weeks, and months laid out.
  • To-Do Lists: Sections where you can jot down tasks and tick them off.
  • Note Pages: For all the extra bits and pieces you need to remember.
  • Hyperlinks: These are the game changers, connecting all parts of your planner together seamlessly.

Creating a custom planner is a creative process that allows you to tailor every aspect to fit any needs. From choosing the number of tabs to designing the layout of each page, you decide how the digital planner functions.

When you're out to create a digital planner, keep this in mind:

  • Simplicity is Key: You want your custom planner to be easy to use. Overcomplicating the design can make it clunky.
  • Functionality: Ensure all hyperlinks work and pages are well-organized; your efficiency depends on it.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Make it pleasant to look at—after all, you’ll be using it every day.

Digital planners are more than just trendy; they're practical, customizable, and can sync across all your devices, making them an invaluable tool for anyone looking to streamline their scheduling and task management.

Choosing Your Design Platform

Finding the right design platform for creating your digital planner is key. Your preferred tool should match your design skills and the complexity of the planner you intend to create.

Popular Design Programs

When it comes to design programs, Adobe InDesign and Affinity Publisher are at the forefront for professionals. Meanwhile, programs like Canva and Google Slides offer user-friendly interfaces that are ideal if you’re looking for something simpler.

For a more sophisticated touch, PowerPoint is a surprisingly powerful tool that combines ease of use with a level of precision suitable for planner design.

  • Adobe InDesign: Ideal for intricate and detailed designs.
  • Affinity Publisher: Great for professional results without a subscription plan.
  • Canva: User-friendly with plenty of templates to get you started.
  • Google Slides: Simple and collaborative with real-time editing.
  • PowerPoint: Versatile, with robust features for a polished look.

Mobile and Tablet Apps

If you’re always on the go, you might prefer mobile or tablet apps for your design work. Keynote is a favorite among iOS users and works wonderfully with an Apple Pencil.

On the Android side, apps like GoodNotes aren't exclusive to iOS and offer similar functionality for note-taking and planner design.

  • Keynote: Exclusive to iOS; best for users in the Apple ecosystem.
  • GoodNotes: Not just for iOS; contains features across both iOS and Android for designing and note-taking.

Template Resources

Templates can be a strong starting point for your digital planner. You can find a variety of pre-designed planner templates on platforms such as Canva. These can be customized to fit your needs, saving you time and effort in the initial setup.

  • Canva: Provides free planner templates that are fully customizable.

Determining Design Tools

Your choice of design tools will depend on your specific needs and skill level. Consider whether you need a simple tool for basic planners or a more robust program to include elaborate designs and interactivity. Don't hesitate to try out a few free plans or demos to see which one feels right for you.

  • Basic Design: Canva, Google Slides.
  • Advanced Design: Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher.
  • Interactivity Features: PowerPoint, Keynote.

Planning The Layout

Keep in mind that the layout is the backbone of your digital planner. It's what makes your planner intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. Pay attention to alignment, readability, and overall flow when planning your design.

Page Structure and Elements

To set up your planner, you'll begin with the page layout. Envision your planner's flow—whether it's a daily, weekly, or monthly format.

Consider essential elements such as grids for alignment, tabs for navigation, and space for to-do lists and appointments. A balanced structure with customizable fonts and colors will ensure both functionality and style.

Effective Use of Templates

Starting with a ready-made template can save time and give you a solid foundation to work from. Look for templates that offer a simple layout with room for customization. You can then modify fonts, colors, and images to suit your personal or brand style.

Customization and Personalization

Your digital planner should reflect your personality or brand identity. Use custom fonts and color schemes to personalize your planner. Add shapes and stickers to inject fun and creativity into your design. The goal is to make the planner distinctly yours while keeping it functional.

Incorporating Functional Sections

Think about what you want to track or prioritize; this might include a habit tracker, meal planner, or budget section. Make sure these critical areas are easily accessible and well integrated into the overall layout.

Integrating Interactive Features

To create a digital planner that stands out, you’ll need to integrate interactive features that boost its usability and functionality. Interactivity makes navigation effortless, presents information dynamically, and turns your planner into a versatile productivity tool.

Navigating Your Planner

Interactive PDFs are at the heart of digital planners, allowing you to include hyperlinks for easy navigation. Use tabs to categorize sections such as calendars, to-do lists, and meal planners.

For example, hyperlink the days on your calendar to their respective detailed daily plan. This creates a seamless experience as you tap a date and instantly view your schedule for that day.

Adding Multimedia Elements

Enhance your planner by embedding images, videos, or audio clips. You could add video tutorials to your habit tracker or soothing audio clips to your meditation section, making it a multimedia haven.

Keep the file sizes in mind to ensure your planner remains responsive on smartphones and tablets.

Enhancing Productivity Tools

Incorporate interactive productivity tools like checklists and project management integrations. Link to external apps like Trello for in-depth task management or embed interactive to-do lists that help track your progress directly within your planner.

  • To-Do Lists: Checkable items, progress tracking
  • Apps Links: Shortcuts to note-taking and project management apps

Creating a Responsive Layout

A responsive layout ensures your digital planner adapts to various screen sizes, be it a smartphone or tablet. Hyperlinks should be easy to tap on any device, and elements like tabs and interactive tools must be accessible without zooming in excessively.

Visual Design Considerations

To create a digital planner that's both functional and attractive, you'll need to give special attention to the visual elements. These considerations influence not only the usability but also the aesthetic appeal of your planner.

Selecting Fonts and Text

Choosing the right fonts for your digital planner involves more than just picking styles you like; it's about ensuring readability and setting the right tone. Stick to a maximum of two or three fonts to maintain a cohesive look.

Sans-serif fonts like Arial or Calibri are often easier to read on digital devices. Also, consider using custom fonts to add a unique touch, but make sure they don't detract from the clarity of your text.

Choosing Color Schemes

Colors play a crucial role in the design of your digital planner. They can set moods and define themes. When selecting a color scheme, aim for a harmonious blend that reflects the purpose of the planner. Use color theory to choose complementary or analogous color palettes.

It's essential to test colors in various lighting conditions to ensure consistency across different devices.

Incorporating Images and Shapes

Images and shapes can break up text-heavy pages and add visual interest. Use high-quality images that relate to the content of your planner. For shapes and stickers, maintain consistent alignment and themes to support visual flow.

Remember that every visual element should serve a purpose, whether it's guiding the user's eye or organizing information.

Creating a Visually Appealing Interface

Your digital planner's interface should be intuitive and engaging. Aim for a layout that guides users through the content with logical alignment and clear divisions between sections. Utilize white space effectively to avoid a cluttered appearance.

Make sure that interactive elements like tabs and buttons are easily recognizable and accessible. A visually appealing interface invites users to engage with the planner regularly.

Finalizing and Exporting

Once your digital planner design is complete, it's time to ensure everything is lined up and ready for use. This includes checking alignment, confirming file compatibility, and testing on various devices.

Checking Alignment and Consistency

Before you export your planner, meticulously review every page. Ensure that text boxes, images, and interactive elements like hyperlinks maintain consistent alignment throughout.

Use grid or guide features in your design software to confirm that elements are evenly spaced and aligned.

  • Headers and footers: Should be uniform across all pages
  • Margins: Keep them equal on corresponding pages for a seamless look
  • Interactive elements: Test all links to ensure they navigate correctly

File Type and Compatibility

Choosing the correct file type is crucial for your planner's functionality. Export your planner as an interactive PDF to maintain both the design integrity and interactive features.

File Type Considerations:

  • PDF/A: Avoid this format as it's not suitable for interactive content
  • Standard PDF: Ensures fonts, images, and layout appear as expected
  • Compatibility: Check that your PDF works with popular note-taking apps and both iOS and Android platforms

Testing on Devices

After exporting, test your digital planner on different devices. Here's a quick checklist:

  • Tablet and Smartphone: Confirm that handwriting fields work with stylus and finger input
  • Navigation: Use a note-taking app to check the ease of navigation through your planner
  • File Integrity: Open the PDF on different apps to ensure consistent appearance and functionality

Remember, the goal is to have a planner that looks great and works smoothly across all user devices.

Rich Kainu

Article by

Rich Kainu

Rich Kainu is the founder and a main contributor to Deal In Digital. He has over 12 years of experience in digital product creation, sales, and marketing as well as content creation strategies..

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