Sketching user experience

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According to Nicolai Marquardt, (1/2014) “When designing user experiences with interactive surfaces, hand drawn paper-pencil sketches are a valuable tool for finding the right design; long before refining the work and getting the design right (Baskinger, 2008; Buxton, 2007). Sketches are lightweight and easy to create, and by varying the fidelity of sketches they can be an integral part during all stages of interaction design”

Sketching / sketches can have various purposes, e.g. Marquardt and Greenberg 2012) cite:

  1. Sense making: “synthesizing the core concepts of an idea into a visual composition is a challenging task, but can support the sense making process about what is being presented or talked about.”
  2. Reflection: Quickly see, recall essential project ideas and critically reflect upon them.
  3. Application: Sketchnotes can include additional notes and related ideas [we wonder why this was labelled "application"]
  4. Practice: “Drawing sketchnotes helps improving one’s rapid sketching skills over time.”
  5. Sharing: visual notes are ideal for sharing in various forms and are nice to trigger discussion.

In user experience, sketches can:


Tutorial videos
Good examples
  • is a collective blog managed by Mike Rohde, Mauro Toselli and Akah Binaebi. It is dedicated to finding and showcasing sketchnotes and sketchnoters from around the world.


  • Baskinger, M. Pencils before pixels: a primer in hand-generated sketching. interactions 15, 2 (2008), 28–36.
  • Buxton, B. Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design. Morgan Kaufmann, 2007.
  • Cheng, K. See what I mean: how to use comics to communicate ideas. Rosenfeld Media, Brooklyn, N.Y., 2012.
  • Greenberg, S., Carpendale, S., Marquardt, N., and Buxton, B. Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook. Morgan Kaufmann, 2012. (about $20).
  • Marquardt, N. (2013), Tutorial: Sketching user experiences tutorial: stories, strategies, surfaces. In Proceedings of the 2013 ACM international conference on Interactive tabletops and surfaces (ITS '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 495-496. PDF
  • Marquardt, N. and Greenberg, S. (2012) Sketchnotes for Visual Thinking in HCI. In Proc. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: CHI Workshop on Visual Thinking and Digital Imagery. (Workshop held at the ACM CHI Conference), 5 Pages, May. PDF
  • Rohde, M. The sketchnote handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking. Peachpit Press, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2013.