User interface sketching tip 5: Constrain yourself

This tip is similar to the tip given in the blog post “Use a Sharpie”. It is about constraining yourself from drawing small details and focusing on the idea, the concept and context. Does the overall idea seem useful? How does it deliver value? Would it fit into the full project and what the user is doing before and after using what you’re sketching?

Categorized in: sketching tips, design process

This blog post is one out of several blog posts on improving your user interface sketching techniques. You might want to read the first four posts: Drawing corners and boxes, Drop Shadow, Use a thick pen, and Get your arm off the paper.

Constrain yourself

Just like using a thick pen help you restrain from focusing on details, you can set up similar constraints to force your creativity to blossom. By constraining yourself, you can stop spending time on drawing small details and start focusing on what is important: the idea, concept, and context.

Does the overall idea seem useful? How does it deliver value? Would it fit into the full project and what the user is doing before and after using what you’re sketching?

To force yourself to stop focusing on small details, set up measures to physically force you to do basic, quick, and dirty sketches.

Some people set up deadlines with extremely small time available in order to move their focus from about less urgent issues to the task at hand. When sketching user interfaces, you can go small in a similar way. Tell yourself that you can at most spend 2 minutes per sketch. Tell yourself to never let the pen stop (start a new sketch if you are done with the current).

Draw on post-it notes

Have a bunch of post-it notes ready and grab a pen. Now start sketching a full page on a single post-it. The very small paper forces you to only draw the most crucial and important parts of the interface. The focus on only the larger details of the wireframe provides a low entry-barrier and invite anyone to participate. Another good thing about post-it notes is that you can use the glue to put notes together to form a full walkthrough of your product.

About the author

29e46e03eb13e5cea3474606aa970f99

Anders Toxboe builds websites with an outstanding team at Benjamin Interactive in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also founded UI-Patterns.com and a series of other projects.

Published on 16 Mar, 2009

1 Comment

Post a comment

Required. Real name or initials only.
Required. Will not be published.

Browsing blog posts

Vote down Vote up
Out of 3 votes, 66.67% like this one.

Recent blog posts