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User experience (UX) design is a complicated process, it’s the bit that takes part before the dazzling visuals and it’s arguably the most important part of any digital project. UX designers are concerned with how intuitive a platform is and how pleasant an experience it is for the end user.
It’s one of the most technical aspects of any digital development project, which is why it’s surprising that more and more UX designers are going old school and reverting back to using pen and paper! However, there’s method in the madness and a range of benefits to sketching initial designs.
Firstly, using a pen and paper allows UX designers to create their user journey and plan a page layout without getting bogged down in aesthetic design. There’s no need to worry about colours, fonts and the other intricacies of visual design at this stage. Things are very much up in the air and it’s easier to make mistakes and figure out suitable alternatives on paper than it is to begin unpicking it on screen.
There’s something deeply satisfying about using a pen and paper in the digital age. It’s something writers often experience when they put down a keyboard and pick up a pen, the ideas are different somehow, things sometimes flow better. It’s the same for UX designers. I personally believe it has something to do with the fluidity of a pen and the connection between the brain and the hand that isn’t there with a mouse or trackpad.
These scribblings are something that the UX designers at Workhouse affectionately (and a little in jest) refer to as ‘website science’. After all, this stage is the scientific part, it’s all about about creating a journey and flow and setting a solid base for the aesthetically pleasing creative stage. Most importantly, this initial stage allows a UX designer to work out the kinks beforehand, dismiss the bad ideas and let the good ones flow.
Digital designers have their own language. If you’re working with a design agency, you might hear a few of these phrases bandied about:
Scamp = A rough mockup of an artwork
Wireframe = A detailed blueprint of a website for arranging elements
UX and UI = Shorthand for User Experience and User Interface
IA = Information Architecture – The art and science of organising content, labelling websites and creating a logical flow of information
UI Kit = A library of assets and treatments that influence the design