Sketching vs. Prototyping: Bill Buxton (was RE: Flash vs. Flex)

26 Jan 2007 - 3:32pm
9 years ago
2 replies
1575 reads
Jared M. Spool

On Jan 26, 2007, at 2:43 PM, Josh Viney wrote:

> One comment though. This method seems to rely on an an old
> assumption that I
> feel is becoming less relevant in Web development (also consider
> what engine
> development has done for the game development world). The
> assumption is that
> technical development is slow, expensive, and a little mysterious.
> Not to
> try to sell everyone on Ruby on Rails, but I've been amazed over
> the last 7
> months by how quickly my developers can prototype. I've sat in hour
> long
> meetings with clients and had my developers prototype while we gather
> requirements. It allows us to engage all of the stakeholders (clients,
> developers, designers, etc.) in a very collaborative/iterative
> process where
> change requests aren't nearly as scary. We've found that because the
> technology isn't as expensive, the real value our developers can
> add is in
> the creative process.

One of Buxton's key points is this has nothing to do with the expense
of development and implementation.

It has to do with how far you are down the concept => design path.

In his world, a sketch should communicate how "done" the thinking is.
Rough sketches communicate early thoughts.

In his presentation, Buxton showed examples of more final sketches
where the artist added in flourishes ("pencil lines through the
endpoints") just to communicate which parts of the diagram were
"done" and which ones were still conceptual.



26 Jan 2007 - 6:44pm
Jack L. Moffett

I think the difference here is in who your audience is.

When showing rough sketches to a customer or management, the purpose
may be to communicate that it is not a finished design.

But, that does not preclude Dan from using rough sketches to specify
a UI design for a developer.


On Jan 26, 2007, at 6:19 PM, Dan Williams wrote:

> "Rough sketches communicate early thoughts"
> Maybe I don't understand the above quote, but all I am saying is
> this is not
> always the case. A rough sketch can communicate a fully thought out
> idea.
> On 1/26/07, Jared M. Spool <jspool at> wrote:
>> I'm thinking I wasn't clear. What I meant to say was that rough
>> sketches communicate that what the viewer is seeing is an early
>> thought.
>> Rough sketches are different than crudely-drawn diagrams. In fact,
>> many rough sketches are very well drawn:
>> Jared

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
412.459.0310 x219

My goal is to build elegant products.
The products that don't make people think
when they should be doing,
make people think
when they should be learning,
compel them by relating to them,
and simply work.

- Robert Hoekman, Jr.

27 Jan 2007 - 7:19am

Jared M. Spool wrote:
> Many of the "rough sketches" that Bill showed in his talk were
> machine drawn, using CAD programs. They had artifacts (pencil-style
> lines and colors, lines through the endpoints, inaccuracies) that
> made them appear hand-drawn, but everything was about looking like it
> was an early concept versus a finished design

The professional version of Sketchup has the capability to automatically
do this sort of thing. Normally, the lines are drawn with precisely
meeting lines, points and corners. Click on a checkbox, and then the
lines all variably extend beyond their endpoints to so that it appears
that the architect has been sketching.

The latest free version of Sketchup has this capability removed. Makes
sense for the users of the free version, but I'm sorry to see it go.

I do wish that my favorite tool (Canvas) had this capability.


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