Every time I start a project by sketching, I am reminded of how useful it is.

It’s all too easy to be drawn in by the glow of your monitor, head straight to Axure, Omnigraffle or Photoshop and dig in. But taking the time to sketch will help you understand the problem at hand, and solve it.

Why Sketch

1. Get your ideas flowing


Sketching is about getting stuff out of your brain and onto paper. Having great ideas is hard; even the most creative people can find themselves stumped. Visualising by hand helps ideas flow.

When you hear a brief, you might have a couple of quick ideas right away, (and a vague sense that there are lots more potential ideas… somewhere). Those initial obvious ideas can clog your mind and close you off to having more. Sound familiar?

Taking the time to put your initial thoughts down on paper lets your brain know that you’ve captured them, and you’re ready to move on.

2. Inspire yourself


Seeing your ideas in black and white will start to trigger inspiration. There’s a temptation to mull ideas over quietly, but if you start getting them down on paper, you have something tangible to set your mind on.

Even an idea which seems terrible or is totally unworkable, is worth jotting down because it might make you think of something else, which could be great.

The goal of sketching is NOT to write down one perfect idea. The goal is to iterate through ideas, developing and improving them.

brain – paper – eyes – brain!

3. Understand the problem


Sketching isn’t just about finding solutions, it will give you a deeper understanding of the problem.

Our minds are really good at quickly giving us an overview of anything they’re presented with. When you read a brief, it’s nice to feel like you “get” it straight away but you could be missing details, or your conceptual model of the issue might be wrong or incomplete. Sketching is a way to dig deeper.

Working the problem by sketching it breaks it open, brings details to the surface, and suggests directions to look in that you might have otherwise missed.

4. Communicate


An idea inside your head is not worth much if you can’t bring it to the real world. Explaining in words is one thing, but a visual aid can get an idea across in seconds.

5. Share your process


As a UX freelancer, I show my portfolio to a lot of people. I often get feedback that it’s great to be able to see my process because I’ve included my sketches. You can see how I arrived at my ideas by getting things down on paper.

I take a lot of photographs of my work, to document the process, back up my thinking and communicate my ideas!

Sketch sketch sketch!

Have you been sketching your ideas? Are you going to try?