Tag Archives: sketching

What I learned during the “Sketching for UX” challenge

Jennifer Blatz Sketching for UX Designer
My final sketch in the #SketchingForUX challenge is complete.

I have successfully reached the finish line for the #SketchingForUX 100 day challenge. Overall, the challenge was fun to do. I learned a few valuable lessons along the way.

It’s tough to find time every day
Sketching for UX Jennifer Blatz UX Designer
Finding the time every day to sketch a concept was challenging.

It should take only a few seconds every day to sketch out 3 concepts. But when I added the step of looking up the concept to practice an alternative idea, that added a bit of time to the process. That bumped things from drawing 3 sketches a day to 6. Plus, I am not always willing to hop on to my home computer at the end of the day. There were several instances where I had to clump as many as 3 or 4 days in to one sketching session because I simply got behind. Even with working on multiple days at once, this task was still easy to accomplish and well worth the time and effort.

It was good to do 2 sketches for every topic

Jennifer Blatz UX design sketching for UX
My first attempt to draw the Illustration icon and then after I looked up the item on Google images for inspiration. The top one kind of looks like a lobster claw. ha ha

Many of the concepts were tough to come up with the initial idea. So I wanted to come up with 2 concepts to diversify my thinking. That is why I would first sketch out the concept that came in to my head. Then I would look on Google images for inspiration for the second image. This helped me in a number of ways:

  • Corrected my visual inaccuracy from the first sketch
  • Brought another concept to my mind set
  • Actually, it brought several alternatives to the table
  • Allowed me to “cheat” only after sketching my initial concept first
  • Showed me how to see a complex versus a simple concept could be illustrated

Many were tough to illustrate

Many of the topics to illustrate were not object or tangible items that were easy to draw. Yes some were interface items like buttons, wireframes and upload. Others were more abstract concepts like synergy, manipulation, heuristic evaluation and value proposition. Even ideas like touch and things involving a hand were particularly difficult for me to draw. More about that in the next segment.

I can’t draw hands

Sketching for UX Jennifer Blatz UX Designer
I suck at drawing hands.

Man, I feel like all of the hands that I drew looked really lame. Even if I was trying to draw a simple had with maybe one finger extended. You know, like when you are trying to show a finger touching an object? Well I think that mine looked completely ridiculous. So I am going to extend the exercise to practice drawing hands, which I have particular difficulty with. The good part of this challenge is that it surfaced areas where I need to improve.

My drawing skills did not improve, but my thinking skills did

I was hoping to compare one of the first sketches I did to one toward the end of the 100 days and say, “Look how much my drawing got better toward the end.” That was not the case, and I am ok with that. We all know that practice makes perfect. The good thing about this challenge is it showed me areas where I need to improve upon. Now I know what I need to practice to try to improve my drawing skills. But participating in this exercise did force me to pause for a moment and rally think about the topic. It made me construct how I think that looks in my head, and then translate that to paper. Often times, what was in my head did NOT come out on paper the way I expected it to. ha ha

I want to do it again

Granted, I am not ready to sign up to do this challenge again just yet. But I did like how it pushed me to be on a fixed regiment and forced me to get something done every day. It was not too time consuming and it did challenge me. I will probably take a few months up and sign up for the challenge again.

I want to practice the objects I am not good at

Jennifer Blatz UX design setting for UXLike I mentioned before, my ability to draw hands just sucks. That is not the only thing I am bad at. But I am ok with these flaws. I can now review the sketched I did and determine which ones I want to refine and make better. My ability to draw heads, hands, brain concepts and pretty much any human body part needs improvement. Also, gears are particularly challenging for me as well. But at least now I have a short list of itms I know I can work on and try to make better.

Exercises like this give me a sense of accomplishment

I am the type of person who loves to check things off a list. Getting things done and completed brings me great joy. So naturally completing 100 days of sketching makes me a very happy gal. I am pleased with myself that I stuck with it and gave it a chance. I am also happy that I could share my sketches, no matter how unrefined, on the internet and share my experiences. I got a few likes on Twitter for my sketches, and that was a little confidence boost. I hope that I even inspired someone else to take up the challenge.

Your turn

Now, here is my plug. I would encourage you to visit Kristina Szerovay’s website Sketching for UX and sign up for her daily newsletter. In addition to a daily nugget to test and inspire strengthening your sketching skills, she also occasionally sends out larger concepts that she has been working on. Even if you are not ready to sign up for the challenge. Check out her site for inspirational Sketches for UX.

100 Days of UX sketching

sketch interface design elements for 100 days Jennifer Blatz UX Design
My first day of accepting the challenge to sketch interface design elements for 100 days.

I have accepted the challenge: sketchingforux100

What is this?
  • You get emailed 3 interface design concepts that you are to sketch every day.

Why am I doing this?

  • I need to sketch more. It’s a skill I seem intimidated by, and therefore tend to avoid. But forcing myself to do it once a day, or in this case, 3 times a day, I am hoping to build confidence in my sketching abilities.
  • It’s fun. It’s low investment and it takes me back to my drawing abilities of my youth.
  • It’s a challenge. And I am always up for a challenge.
  • It’s not time consuming. I like that it’s lightweight and not a high commitment. I am hoping that such a small commitment can be handled with ease.
  • I want to be able to have more instinctive design solutions. Perhaps having to draw an idea on the spot will help me develop this design gut instinct.
  • Why not? It need to push myself in the area of interaction design, so this is a great start.

Want to join me in this challenge? Just sign up for Krisztina Szerovay’s weekly newsletter and daily UX sketching prompts at her website: https://sketchingforux.com. I will post my sketches here from time to time to show my progress. I hope to get stronger in my concepts as the days go by.

UX Deliverables: sketching ideas

Jennifer Blatz UX Design sketch ideas for enterprise software.
It’s helpful to sketch early ideas in paper.

I cannot emphasize this enough: sketch out your ideas before jumping on to a computer and starting your design. Sketching is good for the body and it’s good for the mind. Not to mention, it’s kinda fun to live like a kid again and practice those rudimentary drawing skills. But you certainly don’t have to be a fantastic illustrator to create a good idea. If you think you can’t draw, don’t let that hold you back. I can’t draw either, as you can clearly see from my photograph at the top of this article.

To be honest, I don’t sketch enough. I have been guilty of jumping straight on to the computer, trying to come up with the best design idea as quickly as possible. But I do see great value in sketching out a few possibilities before exploring ideas on the computer.

Some of the advantages of sketching out your design solutions are:

  • Brain dump. Get the ideas out on paper.
  • Explore several idea possibilities. And build the ideas off each other. Variety and iteration are great skills in UX.
  • Force yourself to not settle for the first things that comes to mind.
  • Writing it out helps so that you are not forgetting a key component.
  • It gives you a prop to facilitate a discussion.
  • Seeing it visually on paper really is drastically different than what is in your head.
  • It helps you to communicate to another person by having the visual to discuss. Having the idea just in your brain could be misinterpreted.
  • You can refer to dismissed ideas later. You might find new inspiration or that one of your alternative ideas might actually be a better one to develop.
  • You can include as much or as little detail as you choose.
  • You can do it without electricity. If your laptop has died or the power is out, you can still be working. Your boss will love that!
  • Sketching makes it easy to dismiss an idea without be too emotionally or technically invested.
  • It helps you focus your idea, from the abstract thought in your head, to the real world scenario on the screen.

So as you can see, sketching has many advantages. I encourage your to sketch your next design solution first, without ever turning on your computer. You would be amaze how many ideas you can create if you devote a bit of time and effort. One of those second or third ideas just might become the winner. Give it a try.

Website Evolution: Sketches

It’s great to get some ideas out of your head and on to some paper. I know it may seem strange. But sketching is a great way to brainstorm and to visualize how things actually fit together on the page or screen. Plus sketching is a great communication tool. Want to have a discussion about some of the ideas you have? Sketch them out and use them as talking points to move the project forward.

I used skating and the first phase to exploring some ideas for a history page I was working on for a website redesign.

Use sketching as a communication tool to get the ideas out of your head and on to paper.
Use sketching as a communication tool to get the ideas out of your head and on to paper.

sketching mobile interfaces

Though I never used to be of the “school” of sketching out my designs, I am finding that sketching out a few alternative ideas to a mobile or tablet interface is helping me explore some alternatives. Maybe it is because I am so comfortable designing in print, that I can just crate the layout in my head and execute the layout immediately. Mobile is a bit more foreign and new to me, so it is helpful to explore possibilities. Plus, with the ways that mobile and tablet are interactive and involve swiping and motion, they come with their own set of rules. The learning curve for interaction design is quite different than traditional print design.

Sketching for mobile
Sketching for mobile allows me to explore possibilities.