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Why do I always start by drawing on paper

It's the least restrictive way to materialize ideas I have in my brain.

And sometimes even that is a bit restrictive and I just need to lay down on a couch, close my eyes and let my mind freely work on the design.

See everything else, that is more complex like Figma, Photoshop or even drawing on a tablet makes my brain go into rational mode. With everything I imagine in my mind I need to think about how to recreate it, and that interrupts the creativity flow.

It also forces me to be in more detail, which pen & paper restricts you from. In Figma I can already visualize if it's going to "work" (in the meaning of font size, etc).

And that's not what I want from the first step. In the first step, my goal is to just outline the elements, think about the whole UX and flow how will the app/web work. For example, should there be a popup or it should be the next screen. And I need to be able to draw this in 2 seconds. And that would not happen in Figma.

So I always start with pen & paper to let my mind be in a creative mode, the least restrictive one, thinking in high-level and abstract terms.

And when I think about this I designed our Welder the same way. The remote recording is made so simple to use that your brain can stay in the creative flow and with your guest, in being aware and doesn't have to jump to being in the thinking mode too much.

Does it make sense?

  1. 2

    I also found that working solo it’s best for me to start with paper sketches and jump to building. So I got a sketchbook and pencil a few years ago and started drawing. It didn’t make much sense to me to spend a lot of time on tools like Figma. Although tools like that are wonderful, i found it better as a means to communicate to a team, which I don’t have.

    Maybe if I had potential customers to validate ideas I’d consider using a tool to create a mockup that looked real over coding it first.

  2. 2

    This is so right. Not only on product development but for any ideas organization process - from data visualization to developing a contract.

    By rushing the process and jumping directly to a system or a tool that will be ultimately useful for the phase of "building" the idea rather than spending time on the "conceptualization" of the idea is never an efficient strategy since you will always be restricted to the limitations of the system being used.

    By spending a little bit more time on structuring the idea on a "free" space and getting the concept right you actually end up saving a lot of time on the building process.

    Btw amazing solution you are building. I've been rehearsing launching a youtube channel so not sure if Welder would also support a 1 person video recording format?

    1. 1

      Such a late reply from me! Got a busy month. Happy you see this the same way and yeah we just added a "single player" mode :) you can check it here https://www.getwelder.com/recording-software

      1. 1

        Awesome. If I start with a YT channel I'll definitively use Welder.

  3. 2

    I go from pen&paper -> code.

    I can see if the UX works easily on paper. If it looks wrong I can scrap it and start again.

    With code/design tools. I would copy stuff over and not get the chance to restart completely.

    1. 1

      Exactly, it's worth the time. And it actually saves a lot of time in the end.

      I remember this trend a few years ago when designers pushed starting the process in Sketch / Adobe XD or even HTML. Argued that it saves a ton of time.

      It doesn't. It might seem like that, but in the end, you will either get stuck on something creatively or just design it in a stupid way which will then break the product for your users.

      But as always there is balance. There are some dead-simple apps/products/websites that can be done straight from HTML if you are good enough.

      btw. For this same reason, I just can't use tools like Wix etc

  4. 1

    Hell yes! I could have written myself this post. I would add —based on my experience: pencil and paper frees you from one-click distractions compared to using a laptop. It’s only your ideas and the empty paper. Also, it gives you speed: lets you faster do dirty changes, notes, etc, than sometimes you would in a laptop.

    What has been working great for Kalisten so far is:

    1. Define a specific user need

    2. Think IT solutions and alternatives: do we need to implement it? Should we do a quick hack or a long term solution? Does it look like any time soon we will build on top of this feature?

    3. Paper and pencil: time to draw some UX! Let your imagination fly.

    4. Code, code, and code.

  5. 1

    Yeah, definitely. I think all mediums have influence on output. Even drawing, the medium you are using, the paper size and so on will have an impact. I've done a little bit of artwork here and there and graphite vs oil vs ink vs other mediums have a significant impact.

    For UI work, I do agree that software engages a rational mindset. It's also just slow and often too high fidelity. Personally, I like to use pencil rather than pen and on larger paper for rapid ui mocks.

  6. 1

    I know only a few really good designers but all of them do this. There must be something to it.

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