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Keep a printout of this page taped in the cover of your sketchbook. Refer to it periodically
The sketchbook is perhaps the most prevalent best practice artifact found across all design disciplines. Many designers keep a sketchbook with them at all times. They use it to record and elaborate their ideas, to gather other people’s ideas or artifacts of interest that may inspire future ideas, to ‘doodle’ half-formed thoughts, and to share ideas with others by showing. The sketchbook is particularly valuable as it encourages its owners to develop a multitude of ideas and choose between them, rather than to fixate on a single idea. Bill Buxton calls the process of distilling between many ideas as ‘getting the right design’, whereas the process of developing a particular idea (e.g., through iterative refinement or usability engineering) is ‘getting the design right’. The former emphasizes design that chooses between idea alternatives, while the later is the creative engineering that refines a particular idea.
Computer science students do not normally keep sketchbooks, and as a consequence they typically develop the first idea that comes to them. That is, they worry about ‘getting the design right’ without considering if the basic idea is the best one worthy of pursuit. This is equivalent to the local hill climbing problem in Artificial Intelligence, where local maxima are reached without considering how they would relate to a global maximum. Sketches become a way to investigate other nearby hills (ideas) to see if they can offer better solutions.
To encourage you and other students to develop many ideas, your primary course text is an empty sketchbook. I insist you buy a nice one (hard cover, coiled) so you can take pride in it. You are expected to fill their sketchbook with their project ideas over the course of the term, and to show these ideas to others on demand. I can ask to see it at any time, where your sketches must reflect where you are in particular projects. You should not do sketch dumping, where you sit down after the project is being done. In terms of grading, the key deliverables are that you must generate at least ten different sketches demonstrating quite different ideas for a particular project, and then choose one idea and develop ten variations and/or refinements of that idea. Unlike most grading schemes, you are evaluated primarily on quantity!
You will find a brief instruction manual for the sketchbook below.
|Why a sketchbook?||
Real progress in developing yourself as an interaction designer will depend on you frequently and habitually sketching out your ideas and their variations, recording other people’s ideas you may see, reflecting and choosing between these ideas, and then further developing those ideas that seem promising. The sketchbook records all these, and carrying it with you at all times will help you incorporate sketching and reflection into your daily routines.
The sketchbook will help you learn the following. You will:
I and the teaching assistant will be looking for the following evidence.
I and the teaching assistant will be looking at your sketchbook
Your sketchbook should be a 8 1/2 " x 11" or 9" x 12" coiled book containing (mostly) unlined paper. This size of your sketchbook is important: its pages should be large enough to accommodate idea development comfortably, while still being easy to carry with you at all times. A coiled book means that you can fold it over easily and you can hold it in your arms while sketching. A harder cover is preferred, as it tends to protect its contents.
|What is a sketch?||
This list paraphrases Bill Buxton’s properties of sketches in his book: Sketching the User Experience, Morgan Kaufmann, 2007.
Sketchbooks are useful in many ways. It is a place where you should:
Sketches do not have to be pretty, beautiful, or even immediately understandable by others. However, you should be able to explain your sketches and ideas when anyone asks about them.
Try to develop the following ‘best practices’ into your everyday routine.
- portion of a page from my sketchbook. Note that I am not very artistic, and that I use both sketches and annotations to explore my ideas. You will also see that I have credited the source of my idea in the upper left.
- buddy bugs - sketches and final prototype, by former 581 student Susannah McPhail
- artist's sketch page by Emily R. Feingold source.
- variations in a new wristwatch developed by student Industrial designer Samnang Eav source
- variations in nose shapes (see inset) as explored by one artist source
Credits. This page is partially based on Sketchbook Ideas by Colleen Campbell, a designer and artist who taught at Mount Royal College in Calgary, and Bill Buxton’s book Sketching the User Experience, Morgan Kaufmann, 2007.