️️🖍 ️G️reat designers draw
Read about why drawing matters
Here’s the TLDR;
Draw before mocking up on Figma; it saves time in the long run. Create for people; get to know who your audience or user is. Steal like an artist; get inspiration from everything around you.
Table of Contents
— What did she say? 🗣️
— Order in Mayhem 🚀
— Will drawing help? 🤔
What did she say? 🗣️
I agree with Emily Schmittler when she says that drawing on paper is important to the UX process, as well as design processes in general. When I first started working on my animation for NASA a few years back, I got fired up about the final outcome I had imagined without going through a design process. The premise was to tell a story about what life on Mars would be like. Instead of searching for reference material, brainstorming ideas, storyboarding (the animation equivalent of a low-fidelity mockup), getting feedback from my audience (friends, professors), and returning to the storyboard (iterative design), I defaulted towards creating what I thought NASA wanted to see. The final product that is published now is nowhere near what it was when I initially created it.
Order in Mayhem 🚀
I got burnt out editing stock space footage for an hour because I was creating a story for imaginary people — assumptions based on the judge’s descriptions, rather than conversations with actual people. To name a few, here are some of the judges:
- Gareth Edwards — the film director of Rogue One
- Joshua Grossberg — VP of McCann Advertising
- Bobak Ferdowsi — a literal rocket scientist
- Nicole Stott — a retired NASA astronaut
Instead of intuitively going about the design process, I used a modified version of what I now know to be the build, measure, learn approach popularized by Eric Ries in his book, “The Lean Startup”. The primary difference between the official methodology and the one that I used is that I applied this on an introspective level.
I discarded everything I had and started with a fresh brainstorming session. I started thinking about NASA, Mars, space, astronauts and what being in space would be like, let alone life on Mars. “We’ll be ready for life on Mars when we can sustainably live on planet earth”, I thought. I began to reminisce about my days in kindergarten when I did not have to worry about student loans. Then, it hit me — I used to daydream about space all the time when I was four years old. I specifically remember wanting to become an astronaut, do a backflip, not a frontflip, on the moon, and come back down to earth. “This…” I muttered to myself in an empty computer lab, “this is NASA material”. The goal here was to build a visual story that illustrated the juxtaposition between my disposition toward space travel then versus now.
Since this was a personal story, I wanted to visually and auditorily portray this sensation of being a child in a grown-up environment. Steve Harper, my teacher at the time, understood exactly what I was going for. He recommended that I watch “Dear B.I.G.” by Alex Grigg. I ended up using a few of the scenes from here in my visual story. Grigg’s work resonated with me so much, that I drew inspiration from another one of his shorts called “Born in the Void”, which has elements of space in it!
Drawing the storyboard was the least of my concerns on paper, but it proved to be the most difficult aspect of the entire project. Not only did I have to create the “low-fidelity” version of my story right there, but I also had to share it with people.
At this point, I made the commitment to stick by the story; however, if there were design cues that augmented the experience, I would take the best one over anything else. Amongst all of the great feedback that I got from friends and professors, there was one thing that kept coming up.
“I want to see it when you’re done.”
Since I applied methodology in the form of introspection, here’s a list of the primary things I learned:
- Great things are born from humility
- Ask for help
- The experience is all for the user
- Design something for someone
- Provide a listening ear and follow up with action
- Listen to feedback
Will drawing help? 🤔
Out of all of my experience, I have only given Mayhem as an example because I like concise blog posts. User experience design is traditionally viewed as only web and mobile applications and product design are self-explanatory. However, there are overlapping design habits between the disciplines that make for a better designer. Drawing is just one of them.