The Importance of Sketching

7 May

Ok, so UX people LOVE sketching. I think we love the the idea of sketching partly because it makes us feel more like artists. Back in the day, UXsters aspired to fit into the design process as intermeshed as their graphic design counterparts and sketching gave us a common artistic bond. Now that we’re a bedrock part of the big happy design family, why is it so important to sketch? Well, there’re lots of reasons:

sketch on a paper bag

1. Remove constraints of the digital medium
Working in design software like Axure or Omnigraffle makes you focus on the technology at hand and not the user experience. Stencils, widgets
and pattern libraries all constrain the creative process by forcing you to think like them. In order to create something fresh, its essential to stare at a blank piece of paper because it’s easier to imagine and fashion an ideal experience.

2. Tell the story
Similar to the example above, sketching allows you to focus on the story you are trying to tell instead of trying to make sure your designs are pixel perfect and formatted. Additionally, sketching forces you to focus on the big picture and not the details of the design.

3. Share the UX
When you present sketches to the creative and development teams it is infinitely easier to sell them on the overarching user story than it is trying to share traditional wireframes or mockups. When a design is presented that looks similar to a realized deliverable it encourages everyone involved to focus on details and not the big picture. All successful projects begin with a carefully considered big picture as the starting point to unify the team. So this point is really crucial.

 

A sketch of a mobile experience

 

4. Get quality client feedback
Getting quality client feedback can be a tricky thing. Sometimes clients will be quiet because they don’t want to say anything disparaging about the design you’ve put so much work into. Other times, they will nitpick every last minute detail. Keeping clients involved in the design process by presenting sketches can solve some of these issues. One, clients don’t feel like sketches cost them a ton of money so they’re more willing to speak up about what they want. Two, clients are more vocal regarding sketches because they “appear” to be part of the creative process and nothing has been set in stone.

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