Why start with a sketch?

Have you ever seen 5-year-olds with a marker, scribbling their soul out like they are the modern world’s, Da Vinci and Vermeer?

If you’ve ever got a chance to be around a kid composing his imagination on a piece of paper, it shouldn’t be hard for you to visualize the innocent look on their face when they showed you a small hut in a valley surrounded by trees and mountains.

In their artistic pursuit filled with imagination, do they think how good their drawing is? The answer is NO!

So, why do we get shy with pencils when we grow up?

As much as fun activity drawing is, it has a lot more positive impacts. When we start to scribble an idea on a piece of paper, it builds more clarity.

In the book “Sketching User Experiences”, Bill Buxton explains the anatomy of sketching and how to sketch to receive feedback on the designs.

An example I liked was the process of designing a racing bicycle for Lance Armstrong for Tour de France. The designer made a quick sketch for the first idea with the intention to gather feedback and discard it.

As professionals and design enthusiasts, sometimes we put a lot of detail and effort into the first iteration, other times, we skip this step altogether. This makes it difficult(or impossible) for the team( or stakeholders) to give feedback or make suggestions. It gets even harder to go back and fix when the work is done or almost done.

Make a sketch that is quick, timely, inexpensive with minimum details. Just give a visual print to what’s in your mind and share it with your colleagues to gather their thoughts.

Here is the final design of Lance Armstrong’s bicycle. Would you feel comfortable giving feedback on its design?

So, the next time you hear about a new feature coming up, I hope you will start with a little sketch(read many small sketches)




I’m a software engineer by degree, designer by interest and doodler for fun.

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Vandana Munjal

Vandana Munjal

I’m a software engineer by degree, designer by interest and doodler for fun.

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