Sketching before the Wireframes

1 Feb 2010 - 10:03pm
6 years ago
55 replies
28317 reads
Richard Carson

Hi Folks,

I wanted to ask around on the process of creating wireframes for designing mobile applications. In creating these wireframes, should I work on paper before actually hopping into a drawing program to lay out these wireframes? I believe working on paper is faster and easier before laying out the wireframes for a project. However, the company I am working with, might be wondering if I am wasting my time. That I should be doing wireframes within the drawing program. What are your suggestions and thoughts on this issue?


20 Feb 2010 - 11:09am
Dave Malouf

Are we talking about sketching as a deliverable to the client or
sketching as part of a process of the designer? These are 2 very
different questions. The former one depends on the client. As an ID
design studio we required seeing sketching and sketch models as a
deliverable. But when I was working in a software environment the
sketches would have been confusing to stakeholders.

Regardless of that though, sketching is a requirement of mine and my
team's design process. So for me it is not a question of if or even
when I do sketching, but when do I make this part of my process
transparent to my clients or team members.

-- dave

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Posted from the new

20 Feb 2010 - 11:26am

Personally, sketching on paper is the fastest way to capture concepts
(whether layouts or processes). This can be collaborative with the
stakeholders, or simply my way of taking notes and capturing the
discussions during a meeting.

Once the concepts have taken shape, I turn to the most adaptable
software to formalize and cleanup if further conversations will take
place. I use Visio for flowcharting, Axure for wireframing, and mind
mapping software for organizing ideas visually.

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Posted from the new

20 Feb 2010 - 12:37pm
Krystal Higgins

Regnard--Totally agree that it does depend on the situation. I just
happen to be in a company right now where the high-level stakeholders
just don't want to see sketches. Much to my chagrin, of course ;)

That said, within my team (which is beyond just a design staff) we do
a bunch of sketching for internal buyoff. And it's marvelous that
these simple shapes drawn with a pencil can put us on such a unified


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Posted from the new

21 Feb 2010 - 9:52am

Sketching is the best and cost effective way to play with your ideas
in the initial stage and do the required change before moving to low
or high fidelity prototype. This sketching process could be
participatory which involves clients and all interesting parties. So
a fruitful discussion in this stage with all involved help us to
share their ideas as well as getting a bigger picture of the project
and involve them in design process. This way we could avoid costly
changes in the later stages once we submit wireframes or prototypes
to clients or in the development stage.

And Wireframes could be a mere translation of sketching since we will
have a better idea about the product by then and save time in the
thinking process in wireframing stage.

Also depends on the clients we could decide the Wireframes should be
high fidelity or low fidelity. If the client will able to understand
low fidelity Wireframes, we could work on that way or if they are not
that good in low fidelity we could think of high fidelity interactive
Wireframes using Axure, InDesign or similar tools after the sketching

We are following this process in our projects and depends on clients
we do decide the process.


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Posted from the new

17 Mar 2010 - 8:13am

I'd say, never let your sketches be led by the tool you are using.

When setting up a new interface, with the design document next to me, I cannot start on screen. I'm just limited, or how to say - led by the controls that I see on my screen. I start out on paper and scribble my screens with a pen.

I have a simple notepad at hand everywhere I go, and hold myself from making it digital until all possible cases are roughly integrated in my paper sketches.

I'm fond of Balsamiq Mockups, it just doesn't limit me in just throwing everything on screen as I like it. Luckily we bought it yesterday, gives me more room for linking screens and saving in one click. My software engineers are happy with it too, as I make screens much faster now.

Preceding tools were: MS Expression Blend Sketchflow: half of the controls is not available in Sketch style and not planned for, other half needs a specific way of implementing: first the bar, then the group, then the button, and don't forget to set properties blablabah. That totally interrupts my flow! I tried several mockups with Sketchflow but I kept shutting down the application because I spent so much time on every single control. And ok, the xaml generation is nice, but my colleagues are building a dynamic application and none of my screens is one-on-one used in the application. Everything is generated.

Other tool was InDesign, as I am both graphics designer. InDesign (or Illustrator, if you prefer) is nice too, but just lacks prefab interface controls that you want to have. And you don't want to build things like datagrids with tables in InDesign... it's hell. Prevented my flow, too.

And that, in conclusion, should never lead you, imho. So first comes the pen and the paper... then some easy tool that doesn't get between you and your sketch. Wink

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