Sketch board a better design approach

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I recently attended a sketch boarding workshop with Leah Buley from Adaptive Path. Sketch boarding is a collaborative design technique developed to capture concepts, iterate through lo-fidelity comps and work toward more detailed interfaces. A sketch-boarding sprint could be as short as 5 days which works well with agile development teams.

Sketchboarding combines…

  • Agility and creative exploration of paper prototyping
  • Structured IA, content inventory, and user flows
  • A dash of UCD with persona integration
  • Group collaboration with a twist of affinity diagramming

You will need some tools:

  • Sharpie markers (no pencils here imperfection allowed)
  • Grey markers (emphasize elements of our concepts)
  • Highlighters (highlight important ideas of course)
  • lots of paper (start over as needed)
  • drafting dots (get those ideas an a wall and take a look)

The method is agile and collaborative. At first you warm up with illustrating ideas using a technique that can best be described as a mashup of Pictionary and Telephone. Then you move on to lof-fi line and shape drawing exercises.

Once the group has become comfortable with the tools and the materials you are ready to iterate.
The goal is to capture as many ideas as possible for the product or interface you are designing for. Ideally, you are all working from he same playbook which might be some foundational idea of a product and target audience.

In our workshop, we outlined a list of ideas and developed a lo-fi persona to keep us on track. There were many ideas developed but utilizing large sheets of craft paper and many sticky notes, we were able to quickly organize those concepts into main functional areas.

We moved to the critique phase where criticisms were welcome and well documented with more stickies and from that we identified problem themes that brought us back to reality without hurting anyone’s feelings.

The process was surprisingly simple, effective and cathartic. If your company is agile and is not sketch boarding, you’re not getting the most from your designers, product managers, and engineers.

Listen to an interview with Leah : Good Design Faster with Leah Buley