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Sketching User Experiences

by Bill Buxton

Sketching User ExperiencesBuxton, a musician, designer and researcher at Microsoft Corp., explores the use of sketching to develop and communicate ideas during the design process. He offers examples of how to sketch using pen and paper, Post-It notes, computer displays, and even by “acting out” an idea (as in a theatrical sketch). Sketches are quick and cheap to produce; therefore, several alternatives can be sketched in a short amount of time. A sketch lends itself to generating, discussing and exploring new ideas. Contrast this with prototyping, which in some cases (notably the automobile industry) can be an elaborate process requiring many months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete. As Buxton says, prototyping is essential for getting the design right, whereas sketching is the tool of choice for getting the right design.

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