Pen > Mouse: Creating Thoughtful Design
November 13, 2012
Brainstorming and sketching are obvious ways to begin a project. However, designers often get caught up in the ease of developing their ideas exclusively on screen. As a designer, when visually communicating with the audience, it is important to first visually communicate with yourself. Sketches can convey thoughts behind the idea that becomes the final product. We take this approach with every project, including web design.
Initial “doodles” can turn into so much more. By developing them and focusing on the idea behind them, sketches can be applied to the general aesthetic of a brand. For example, the logo can be significantly influenced by simple sketches. It could be an abstract thought that’s then translated into a recognizable shape that conveys the brand message. Hand-drawn pieces display the style and personality of the artist or designer behind it.
Research by the LA Times suggests there is inherently a mental disconnect caused by using a screen. The study used neuroimaging scans to show that writing by hand can engage more brain circuits than when using a computer. The cognitive connection between one’s hand and the ideas that are facilitated is stronger than a digital connection. The brain is used more when putting pen to paper, just like how the brain is used more when running outside versus on a treadmill. By using a more natural method, Metropolis Creative’s process offers less barriers to creativity and is therefore more relaxing and productive.
Sketching is integral to moving the artist or designer in a constructive direction. Initially, the designer may not be able to articulate what works best for the particular project at hand. With repeated brainstorming, sketching, critiquing, a designer can figure out how to communicate the message of the client. In web design, it is crucial to begin with wireframes and to determine the visual hierarchy of a page before creating the aesthetic. If design is the paint on the walls, wireframes and sketches are the necessary blueprints. Working first from wireframes help clients and Metropolis figure out the importance of each item on their site. Starting here saves time with later designs of the website.
Internal critiquing gives the designer opportunity to improve on each round of sketches. The process of trial-and-error can reveal what works and what does not with regards to the client’s purpose. We have a team of designers and developers that all add different perspectives to critiques ranging from aesthetics to functionality to general readability. We can also produce more iterations faster for our clients with this process.
While it may seem easier to just start a project by diving into the Adobe suite of software, initially using pen and paper is much more advantageous. The stronger connection made with the physical motion of writing and drawing helps the development and realization of ideas. And this helps us push our creativity further while rounding our concepts more fully for our clients.