An article in Smashing Magazine by Peiter Buick, “The Messy Art of UX Sketching” sparked a conversation in our office about the role and importance of sketching by hand as part of the UI design process.  It was interesting to learn that some of our designers have been sketching for ages and consider it an essential part of their design process, while others generally go straight to the computer to begin initial stages of a design.

Our conversation resulted in a new drawing table in the office, and a consensus amongst the designers that sketching should be considered as part of our design process. How we arrived there is bulleted below, by discussing the tools that make sketching practical for UI designers, and how sketching can help generate different ideas, iterations, and used in working with clients.

  •  Sketching allows you to get all of your ideas out quickly, both the good ideas and the bad ideas.  This can help designers avoid encountering problems later on the project that they didn’t see initially.
  • Work in Layers. Start with light grey, as you refine the design you can incrementally progress onto darker shades of grey using markers. The layers process allows the designer and client to see the development of the design.
  •  You can also photocopy your sketches and continue to draw on top of them or reposition/create collages using mockups or sketches to move elements around the page.
  • Use sticky notes to indicate functionality. They can be easily moved around the design.
  • Presenting sketches can be a great way to effectively communicate with a client about the variety of possibilities in terms of design and navigation at preliminary stages of design. By reviewing your sketches a client can follow your train of thought and understand why & how you arrived at the final design that you ultimately present to them.


Author Michelle Hartog

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