November 28, 2007, 1:58 pm
Sketching, comics & the “napkin” look and feel.
By Kirsten Robinson
Recently Mac attended a talk by Bill Buxton on sketching and he summarized the talk for the rest of our user experience team. Here is my “Father Guido Sarducci’s 5-minute University” summary of Mac’s summary of Bill’s talk:
- Sketches are not prototypes. Sketches are quick, timely, inexpensive, disposable, and plentiful. They are used for ideation or “getting the right design.” Prototypes are further developed. They are used for evaluation or “getting the design right.”
- Bill encourages people to make at least 5 sketches and not to have a clear favorite.
- The rendering technique or fidelity of a sketch should communicate the level of doneness. In other words, the sketch should not be more refined than the idea.
- Leave holes when sketching to provide room for imagination.
- Sketches could be words, not images (think of comedy sketches). A user scenario is a form of word sketch.
- At Dynamic Diagrams, we tend to show our clients presentation drawings rather than sketches. But we use sketching internally to develop our ideas, before choosing the one that we will develop into a more robust design.
Our discussion about sketching reminded me of a couple of related topics.
In The Power of Comics: An Interview with Kevin Cheng, Jared Spool asks about Kevin’s experiences using comics to communicate user experiences. Kevin notes that,
“One of the strengths of comics is that they’re very condensed. It’s almost like the whole picture is worth a thousand words. And a comic is just a series of pictures. Therefore, a lot of data can be condensed into the comic. I’ve found people tend to read these types of comics more often than requirements documents.”
Napkin Look & Feel for Java is “a pluggable Java look and feel that looks like it was scrawled on a napkin.” The developers recommended it for developing prototypes that are fully functional, but don’t look too done.
I’ve experimented with hand-drawn sketches and low-fidelity wireframes made in Visio (try Comic Sans font to make Visio drawings look “sketchy”). I like that they are fast to create, and I also believe I get better, more comprehensive feedback from people reviewing my designs.
Thanks for the links!
The “Interaction Designer’s Nailgun” at guuui.com (http://www.guuui.com/issues/02_07.php) now includes a “sketchy” template for Visio.
It uses Comic Sans, and all the layout elements are drawn with sketchy lines. It’s great for conveying an idea without implying that it’s “done”.
Posted by clgannon on November 30, 2007 at 5:28 pm