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Dec 12, 2017

Don't talk, just draw!

A picture says more than a thousand words. But still, the written word dominates business life. We say: Give pics a chance! In a sketching workshop which we held for a large German technology group, we demonstrated how even the simplest, abstract sketches can help to understand complex correlations in professional settings faster and better.

Humans are visual beings. We process pictures and drawings a lot more efficiently and effectively than texts. That means: Whenever it is necessary to understand connections, explain concepts or solve problems quickly, pictures should be the method of choice.

Everybody can draw!

In order to visually transport thoughts and ideas and make them available for work, you don't have to be a gifted artist. In our sketching workshop we demonstrated the participants: Everybody can draw - even IT experts who are used to recording their work by means of technical descriptions. Our UX designer Verena Brückner reassures even the most inexperienced drawers: "Sketching is not about creating perfect and realistic pieces of art. It is more important to transport ideas and contents, making them available and comprehensible to other people."

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Abstract is easy

Using simple examples, our sketching expert showed the participants how to achieve this with only a few pencil strokes: A few wavy lines above the sketch of a cup, for example, turn cold coffee into hot coffee. And a hand holding a smartphone appears a lot more active when you add a couple of arrows and (half-)circles. These and other abstraction techniques helped the participants overcome their fear of drawing and proved how quickly and effectively certain information can be conveyed using pictures.

Making assumptions about what others mean

While language is often misleading, pictures are far more reliable when it comes to getting contents across. A simple example: If you are trying to talk about cats, different partners in a conversation will have different images in their heads. One person may think of cute white pet cats with button noses, while another person may think of a raggedy stray cat or Garfield, the cartoon character. Depending on their own individual experiences, people’s thoughts and feelings with regard to the topic may differ considerably and hinder productive working. Drawings can prevent such misunderstandings by bringing everyone on the same track and ensuring a common understanding of the topic.

Working with sketches

The sketchers were quick to put the newly acquired knowledge to the test: They were asked to capture the structure of a website in a wireframe, illustrating even interaction flows and animation concepts instead of putting them in words. Their efforts resulted in impressing illustrations that will certainly continue to be used in the company. Such sketches are helpful to visualize initial product ideas at an early stage and test them with potential users at the beginning of the development phase without having to develop expensive prototypes.

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