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Visual Thinking for User Experience – Monday, November 8

Communicate your ideas more effectively with easy-to-master sketching skills

Dave Gray

Dave Gray
Founder XPLANE, a Dachis Group Company
Co-author of Game Storming: A Playbook for Innovators,
Rulebreakers, and Changemakers

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What’s the breakdown of the day?

Morning: The Basics of UX Sketching

You’ll start the day de-programming the idea that you can’t draw. With some simple practice techniques, (just imagine Mr. Miyagi saying "Wax on, Wax off,") you’ll work the basic motor reflexes needed for sketching. You’ll warm up those parts of your brain that have been dormant for years, learn a jump-start to your visual cognition system. You’ll get your neurons firing in refreshing new patterns, as you draw in both 2D and 3D.

Once you have the basics down, you’ll move to the mechanics of drawing user experiences. Dave will show you his tricks for constructing and representing interaction ideas, such as drag-and-drop or scrolling. You’ll learn straightforward techniques for integrating perspective and 3D, helping you tackle particularly tricky interactions and relationships in your diagrams.

Afternoon: Using Visual Thinking to Tell Your Story

After lunch, Dave will take your new sketching skills and apply them to the realm of storytelling. You’ll start by using mind mapping techniques to describe both basic and complex scenarios. Then you’ll move into more advanced storytelling techniques. The highlight of the afternoon will be the Day In The Life exercise, where you’ll create a rich visual experience, all from the techniques you’ve learned during the day.

Dave will wrap things up with scenes and scenarios. You’ll become a Pictionary wiz, when it comes to user interface concepts. You’ll learn techniques for drawing rich environments—think cityscapes—that can help you deal with the complexity of both offline and online experiences.

Does your team face these problems?

  • You love the sketches you see other designers drawing, but you’re convinced you can’t draw them yourself.
  • You struggle to represent your designs with the visual richness of today’s graphical interfaces and complex interactions.
  • It’s hard to keep your entire design in your head, making it difficult to discover good ideas and think through it.
  • As you conduct your design and user research, you need a way to capture and communicate the different people, relationships, and needs you’re discovering
  • You need to get clients and co-workers engaged in your ideas, but they don’t focus their feedback on where your current thinking is.

Why visual thinking?

We’re visual creatures. We can understand what’s happening in a picture much faster than we can process the words that describe the same scene. An effective sketch gets an idea across much faster than discussing it in a meeting or reading paragraphs in a specification.

There’s huge value from both sides of sketching—we learn from drawing an idea and from viewing it.

To master sketching, you have to master the visual vocabulary. This vocabulary has a basic alphabet, made up of lines, boxes, curves, and squiggles, which we combine to make the pieces of our ideas. With practice, we learn how to render our thoughts and expressions more effectively.

Drawing is a thinking process. Structuring the elements in a visual scene helps us understand what’s there and what’s missing. As we draw in the relationships between the elements, we see new connections and juxtapositions.

Just like when we model ideas in a spreadsheet, visual thinking helps us see things we wouldn’t otherwise see. Grabbing that pen and putting it to paper engages a part of our brain that otherwise can’t contribute, making our thoughts richer and our ideas substantive.

How will visual thinking change your future?

Armed with the basic alphabet of visual sketching and some easy-to-practice exercises that hone your drawing skills, you’ll expand your designer’s toolkit. How cool will it be to radically increase the breadth and range of your problem-solving and creativity talents, with a new set of methods, approaches, and tools?

Tackle complexity easily with a rich visual vocabulary.

You’ll discover new design insights and ideas faster. See how sketching can fire up your neurons and connect your synapses to uncover gaps and inspire your designs. Stimulate your imagination in ways you never thought possible.

You’ll rejoice at how much easier it is to engage your clients and co-workers over your design work. The increased client comprehension will reduce the friction that comes from not understanding concepts, relationships, and outcomes.

Tackle a new level of complexity using a visual representation of everything that’s happening in the rich ecosystems of your design. Get everyone on the same page when you render the ideas you’re hearing during group discussions. Easily communicate the depth of your design solutions. Think visually.

What makes this workshop exciting?

Dave’s workshop will change your relationship with your hands. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to represent your ideas using a simple-to-create and easy-to-grasp visual vocabulary. You’ll come away with simple practice exercises to help keep your mind sharp and your sketches crisp.

“I can’t believe how easy it was to start sketching my ideas clearly.”

You’ll love the power you’ll discover in your new sketching skills. This is mind mapping on steroids. With every stroke and squiggle, you’ll be closer to new ideas that will dazzle your clients.

Dave’s tricks and techniques for drawing complex interactions and relationships will help you blast through those difficult sessions where everyone’s talking and nobody’s understanding. It will be like you’ve just stepped out of the fog into a beautiful clear day.

Why did we pick Dave?

We’ve noticed that the first table to fill up in UX gatherings is Dave Gray’s. That’s because he’s one of the most interesting people in the field.

Dave has a great way of explaining how to make simple and effective graphical explanations.

Dave first came on our radar years ago when the premier issue of Business 2.0 magazine featured the amazing explanatory visualizations from the company he founded, XPLANE. Since then, Dave has become synonymous with simple and effective graphical explanations.

Dave’s presentations are always filled with his delightful and iconic hand-drawn elements, which look so simple, yet communicate so much. Over the years, we’ve met dozens of folks who have learned his techniques and we’re in awe at how quickly they’ve picked it up. It was a no-brainer to invite him on this year’s program. We’re so pleased he said yes.

What’s the next step?

If Dave’s workshop isn’t quite what you’re looking for, explore the other 7 workshops. There’s also a whole day of Featured Talks with all the UI15 experts.