Q&A

The UX de­signer on spread­ing the word about the im­por­tance of sketch­ing

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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.

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