The 5 Values of Sketching Interfaces

Tara Loosvelt  

March 28, 2012

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There are many values of sketch ideation on paper with a sharpie or pen. It not only saves so much time and digital effort but also is one of the most useful communication tools when thinking through interface designs. Here are five specific values to this highly integral part of the process here at Extractable:


As a communication tool amongst team members, sketching is a quick way to brainstorm on the fly and work through use-case scenarios. The strategy team here is positioned in front of two expansive walls of white boards and they are rarely white!


Sketching out interfaces is useful as a communication tool amongst team members. Sketching out high-level concepts can help with brainstorming but we also communicate more solidified ideas between teams. Presenting a strategy or functionality to visual design or technical is much less intimidating in the form of a sketch as opposed to a formal deliverable. This is very useful when designs need to be tweaked for minor improvements.

A pre-final-wireframe

Sketch wireframes alleviates the need to go back and retrofit digital wireframes, which is not only costly but also not very exciting. Start wire framing initially with sketches and take them to the computer only once you have thought through all the use case scenarios, functionality, information hierarchy, goals, content etc. Once a final sketch is prepped it will serve well as a compelling piece to digitize.


Interactions are hard to sketch, however, main states of interfaces can easily be represented on sketches and presented as a storyboard. For example, we have done paper cut outs for hover over states, drawing while explaining an interaction in real time on a white board, and multiple sketched wireframes in succession to represent the different states of navigation through an experience.

Client discussions

Effectively communicating ideas to clients doesn’t always have to be a long slick presentation. Sometimes it is the simple piece of paper as the main discussion point that will get your point across.