Sketching and prototyping

February 2013

Years ago when a new project came along I would open Photoshop, create a new document and start “designing”.

My design process has evolved since then but it’s easy to fall into this trap; get briefed, jump into Photoshop, mockup some comps, send them over for review, then pass them onto dev.

The problem is this skips the essence of a good design process, which is about solving problems and building a usable product.

Skinning a product and getting subjective feedback isn't good enough

Typical feedback you’ll get from a Photoshop comp is about colour, type, shape, layout, texture etc. Mostly subjective feedback.

Feedback you risk missing out on:

  • Is this aligned with what stakeholders want or envision?
  • Is it feasible for the dev team to make this given the technologies and resources available?
  • Is this something users can identify with, will use and be able to use it easily?

As a designer you play bigger role in the process

If your role in the project is visual interface or graphic design only, then that’s probably ok. But if you’re a UX, interaction, lead and/or only designer working on a project, then you play a bigger role.

Sketching enables you to brainstorm, explore multiple ideas, define flows, communicate with team members all why being quick and cheap.

Prototyping enables you to get out of the building quicker, talk to users, validate assumptions, ensure expectations are meeting stakeholder needs, while spending as little time as possible worrying about polish.

Benefits of sketching and prototyping

  • Validate assumptions
  • Discover problems early
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Design more iterations
  • Conduct early usability testing
  • Cheaper & faster to implement
  • Shorten the feedback loop
  • Disposable
  • Explore alternatives
  • Helps communication between the team
  • Ensure the right thing is being designed

Ensure sketching and prototyping plays an important role in your design process and worry about pixel perfection later.

Further reading

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