Communication started with symbols or pictographs: direct and easy to understand. It was the need to keep track of people, money and produce (abstract ideas) that led to the development of writing. Today, writing is our primary mode of communication and the use symbols is only an accessory. However, even today, we often need to use sketches to express some of our ideas.
Many of us stop sketching once we are done with high school, especially because in higher education, sketching is taught with an artistic goal. We stop using sketches for ideation and use writing instead. This often limits our creative capabilities.
SketchPad is an app that helps you to learn and practice sketching, with the aim to become good at expressing ideas and communicate effectively.
This was a semester long solo project as part of the Introduction to Interaction Design course. Throughout the project, I read books about sketching, tried every sketching app I could get my hands on, and tried to sketch as much as I could. Out of the various steps in the design process, I learned the most from iterating on the paper prototype and the digital one.
Winter 2017, 12 weeks
Pen and Paper
Sticky Notes and Whiteboard
Sketch, and InVision
This project was heavily inspired by SketchNotes: a way to make note taking fun and memorable, and the Noun Project, which is a big repository of symbols that depict entities or ideas.
Research & Comparative Analysis
How do people learn to sketch? Through online research, I narrowed down my options to books, websites, online courses, apps, coaching from a human being and via social networks. I compared these alternatives and prepared a list of pros and cons, which helped me build this bug-list.
|All||Artistic approach to teaching, instead of clarity|
|Books||Generic Instructions, not tailored to user’s progress or interests|
No feedback. Self-evaluation.
Does not aid in discipline / habit formation
Focus on how, little discussion on why.
Peer review is almost always not helpful.
Videos need to be paused and resumed.
Examples are not organic, but are perfect and machine drawn.
Student gallery only shows the best works, but not works that show significant progress / improvement.
Critiques are overall, but may not have actionable steps.
Video bandwidth could be a constrain to many.
Touchscreen app may not be easy to use.
Only a limited set of pre-programmed objects for drawing.
|Coaching||Receive feedback only when instructor is available|
Social pressure could become a hindrance.
Barrier to entry, when one sees too high quality work.
Sketching - Phase 1
In this phase, I sketched 8 completely different ideas about what the tool could be.
Sketching - Phase 2: Storyboards
After phase 1, I received feedback from our instructor that some of my concepts like #4 and #6 were not unique enough. In this next step, I was asked to expand on these concepts, by sketching a 5 slide storyboard for each, and also come up with 2 new ideas to replace #4: Play when I say and #6: Make it so.
Keeping the personas in mind, I visualized possible set of tasks and actions into a narrative. This helped me understand how the application will be used, and possible variations depending on circumstances. Through this process, I realized that the application should have the ability to be used during short breaks. I came back to this insight later during the final prototype.
QOC: Questions, Options, and Constraints
This step was about considering different approaches for a feature, based on personas and the story map. For more details, click to see: QOC Analysis Document
Using colored paper and pens, I iterated on the app concept through paper prototypes. Based on feedback from my peer critique group, I made several changes to the user flow and interface. I also discarded the idea of having a multi-player sketching game, and changed it to single player, with personal goals and leaderboard.
In the high-fidelity digital prototype, I incorporated the feedback I received during the paper prototype stage, and used a 'sketch' like aesthetics for its visual design. I envisioned it to be used on touch screen devices, and the design to be OS agnostic, similar to how games are designed on mobile and tablet platforms.