3 Reasons to Start Sketchnoting
Over the last year or so, sketchnoting has gained popularity in the user experience design community. As people capture more and more events with sketchnotes, you may wonder, what are these things? And, why do other people make them? And more importantly…
Why should *I* make sketchnotes?
I’m leading a seminar at the upcoming IA Summit on sketchnoting, and I’m here to help you answer this question.
Reason 1: Become a Better Listener
My most important sketchnoting skill is not my visual language. It’s my ability to listen.
Throughout a presentation, I listen with my ears and my eyes, and I record with my eyes and my hand. The only way to create a thorough sketchnote is to be able to do both at once.
As designers, we need to listen to so many people—clients, coworkers, and our favorite of all, our users. Sometimes listening requires hearing a person’s needs beyond what she can vocalize; we need to interpret what we hear and confirm that we’ve heard them right.
Since I’ve started sketchnoting, I have found that recording quotes while moderating usability tests is much less challenging than it was before. And, I’ve started practicing drawing people while listening to and annotating recorded sessions—it helps me stay more engaged than I could before.
Once you can listen and create sketchnotes at the same time, listening itself becomes even easier.
Reason 2: Communicate and Sell Ideas
Part of the fun of sketchnotes is sharing them online or in person after I’ve completed them. Fellow audience members even peer over my shoulder while I make sketchnotes—something I’m sure other sketchnoters have experienced.
People can’t help but be curious about sketchnotes—both about what they are and what they say. With digital communication dominating our interactions with each other, a hand-drawn note can be irresistible. Sketchnotes are a great way to share ideas you’ve gathered at conferences with your colleagues.
You can use skills honed for sketchnoting in other contexts as well. Earlier this year, I discovered a cause I wanted to support: getting people to understand and talk about rare diseases. I made a poster about what it’s like to have a rare disease, and it is still my most-viewed image on Flickr, even beating out the sketchnotes of UIE virtual seminars.
Reason 3: Gain Confidence in your Visual Language
Fostering a sketchnoting habit has drastically improved my confidence in my own visual language. In fact, I started sketchnoting so I could more easily incorporate sketching into my design practice.
At EightShapes, we often use design studios to develop and refine ideas before creating prototypes or wireframes. The first time I participated in a studio, I was nearly overwhelmed. There were so many things to keep in my brain at once, and I had to be able to quickly capture whatever sparse ideas I could come up with, all in just five minutes.
I survived, and no one booed my sketches away, but I did come away with a new goal: to be as comfortable with sketching ideas on paper as I was with any other medium.
Today, I look forward to design studios, and I attribute that attitude to my sketchnoting practice. Whatever particular aspect of your visual language you’d like to refine, regular sketchnoting is bound to make you more confident.
Intrigued? Want to Learn How to Sketchnote?
On Saturday at the IASummit, I will be giving a presentation on Why and How to Start Sketchnoting. The talk should be a lot of fun: I plan to share the stages of sketchnoting that have helped improve my skills over the last eight months.
And of course, I’ll be sure to post the slides here, in case you can’t make it. Sketchnoting is for everyone!