Avoid Joel Spolsky’s Icebergs by Sketching!
A coworker just sent me Joel Spolsky’s Iceberg Secret article, which is a great reminder about how people interpret visual designs / mocks / prototypes. Here’s my half sentence summary of the post: If the product looks like it’s done, people will think its pretty much done.
But we know that isn’t true. Just because a UI exists doesn’t mean anything under the hood exists. And that is why over the past few months I’ve taken to carrying around a sketchpad. Huh? Paper? Pens? What are they? I’ll tell you what they are: USEFUL.
Here’s why sketching interfaces / interaction designs floats my boat, at least for the first couple iterations:
- It doesn’t look done. Because if it was done, it would be user-facing and on production.
- It doesn’t look hard to change, so people don’t feel bad suggesting big (or small) changes.
- People who you show it to can actually draw on top of it / make their own (they call this collaboration).
- People don’t care about details / pixels, they care about the stuff they’re actually supposed to care about.
- They’re quick, and your time is valuable.
- You can still take a picture of a sketch and stick it inside a mock.
- Paper doesn’t have a $350 licensing fee.
- Street cred, and it helps people understand the idea of design as art.
Just yesterday I had a pretty loosely developed idea for a an interface element, so I printed out the existing high-fidelity visual mock and drew all over it. Then I took a picture and put the photo of the sketch in the presentation I gave. It worked awesome, because it encouraged discussing the intent instead of the details of execution.