The UX designer on spreading the word about the importance of sketching
Eva-Lotta Lamm on spreading the word about the importance of sketching
net: You’re a talented artist as well as a graphic and web designer. How did you develop all of these different skills? EL: Many things in my career happened organically. I have always been driven by curiosity and I like to try new things first and then see if I want to continue doing them. I find it hard to tell if I’ll like something without having tried it for at least for a little while.
net: What was it like working as senior interaction designer for Android? How did that compare to working at Skype and Yahoo? EL: The best thing about working at Google were the people. I was surrounded by super talented designers in my team and I got to work with some great developers who’d always approach technically challenging designs with a problem-solving attitude, rather than dismissing them as ‘too difficult’. I’m lucky to have been in a similar situation in my other tech company roles as well, but I’d say that the density of friendly, competent and motivated people was definitely highest at Google. It becomes easy to take this for granted, but when working with companies from outside the tech sector now, I sometimes get reminded that there are lots of places where processes, structures and attitudes are still rigid and narrow. net: What’s been the proudest moment of your career to date? EL: This is hard to answer. The feeling of pride is not the most familiar to me. When I do good work, it makes me really happy for a while and then it kind of becomes a normal thing to have done. And I don’t tend to classify things in superlatives (as in ‘proudest, ‘best’ and ‘biggest’). But the work that makes me the happiest when looking at it again is the sum of my sketching work. I like diving back into my collections of conference sketchnotes ( sketchnotesbooks.com) every now and then, finding and rereading interesting bits and being amused by some of my own drawings. And it’s wonderful to see people have fun and gain confidence in expressing themselves visually in my sketching workshops.
net: Why do you see sketching as so important? EL: Sketching is the simplest way to express our ideas visually. Being visually literate and even fluent in expressing ourselves in a visual way is a key skill for designers, and is rapidly becoming a crucial skill for anyone in today’s society. Communication is becoming more visual by the minute and in order to be listened to and to get our thoughts across clearly and engagingly, we need to be able to summarise and visualise them so others can literally see what we mean. Many of my talks these days also include practical parts for the audience to sketch along, because doing so is the best way of directly experiencing the power of sketching.
net: Can you tell us a little about your forthcoming book, Sketching Interfaces? EL: I’ve been teaching sketching workshops for UX designers (and anyone involved in creating digital products, really) for over six years now. I’ve learned a lot about what people struggle with when they try to sketch their ideas, both on their own and in a group setting. Over the years I’ve developed and refined a nice set of sketching techniques, practical exercises and explanations of the basic principles of clear sketching. The book will summarise and expand on the content of the workshop to be a practical reference on the different types of sketching you need during the design process, covering topics like sketching page layouts, interactions and transitions, flows, models and storyboards. I don’t have a release date yet, but if you want to be notified when I do, check out sketchinginterfaces.com.
Eva-Lotta Lamm will be speaking at Amuse conference, Hungary, on 18 October and Pixel Pioneers, Belfast, on 17 November.