Drilling Down the Design Process, Part 1: Sketching - ResidentialSystems.com

Drilling Down the Design Process, Part 1: Sketching

by Morgan Strauss At Guifx, we’ve been designing GUIs for 12 years, and during that time we’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t. Over the years we have refined our process down to three distinct phases: sketching, wireframing, and candy coating. In today’s blog I’ll address sketching as part of a three-pa
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by Morgan Strauss

At Guifx, we’ve been designing GUIs for 12 years, and during that time we’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t. Over the years we have refined our process down to three distinct phases: sketching, wireframing, and candy coating. In today’s blog I’ll address sketching as part of a three-part series.

After a brief meeting with the client to get a better understanding of what they’re looking for, we dive right in with the sketching phase, which is essentially brainstorming. It’s how we get all of the ideas out of our heads and onto the table quickly. This is a completely internal process with a focus on functionality, so aesthetics aren’t taken into consideration and the client won’t see our sketches. This is an important point. We could start directly in Photoshop so we would have something polished to show the client. But after spending hundreds of hours designing, they might not like it, and even worse, their attention will shift to aesthetics instead of the most important thing: functionality.

The tools we utilize for sketching have evolved significantly. 12 years ago, we simply used a mechanical pencil and lined paper. Today we take advantage of the latest technology for a more efficient, streamlined process. Our tool of choice is the Penultimate app for the iPad. It’s only 99 cents in the app store, and allows you to use your finger or a stylus for drawing. We opt for a stylus; specifically, the Griffen Technology stylus. We’ve experimented with many, and it has proven to be the best. With the iPad we can move sketches around quickly and collaborate internally as a team, as the iPad is large enough to sit on a table and have several people participate.

Once we’ve sketched out all our ideas on the iPad, we pick out the best ones and move on to the wireframing phase, which we will discuss next time.

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Morgan Strauss is the president of Guifx, an interface design studio specializing in touchscreen interfaces for home automation and embedded systems. He can be reached at morgan@guifx.com.

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