Sketch Break!

6-up (or 8-up) pen and paper exploration

Today’s Daily UI Challenge #003: Landing Page, Above the Fold

I woke up my creativity this morning with a cup of coffee and some good old-fashioned pen and paper sketching. The 6-up (or 8-up) methodology is one of my go-to’s for stretching the brain. Create 6 squares (or 8 rectangles) on a page, and fill each one with a different idea for how to solve a given problem.

Today I grabbed a giant 11x17 sheet of paper and folded it down to 8 “rectangles” with space for notes.

Each rectangle is purposely small that you can’t draw (or write) much detail. Instead, focus on sketching just enough to get your concept down, and then move onto the next one.

Often we get stuck on our first idea, wanting to flush it out further with more details, convinced that we are brilliant. To that I say: check your hubris. Honestly, your first idea is probably not the best idea. So, jot that first idea down, and then do yourself a favor and come up with at least 5 more ideas to think about the problem from different approaches.

Hubris: Excessive pride or self-confidence. (In Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

At the end of this exercise, you might still pursue your first idea. But you’ll now approach it with additional insight from your detour through other possibilities.


Some 6-up sketching that I lead as a collaborative exercise between two companies.

Try this as a group exercise too! Give every person their own sheet and set a time limit to encourage a breadth of exploration (instead of a depth of detail in any single idea). Afterward everyone shares their ideas and you can use use sticky dots to vote on elements that are worth further consideration.

One great thing about this exercise is that everyone gets an equal voice. The quiet person in the room might have a great idea that otherwise would get overlooked.

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