Images have more distinctive features than words. That’s why it’s easier to recognize sketches among sketches than it is to recognize words among other words. Sketches enhance accessibility to earlier ideas.
Sketches enhance accessibility of earlier ideas
Easier access to earlier ideas stimulates the use of those ideas. Besides that it’s easier to use other people’s ideas which were generated during earlier sketching sessions. Storing sketched ideas stimulates team collaboration.
Transition from words to visuals
Interaction designers usually have a variety of backgrounds. Many only express themselves by written documents. Most think it’s about making beautiful stuff. Sketching in this phase has a much more rationale purpose. It’s not about making eye-candy.
The trick is to make the transition from words to images, that’s a mind-set. Instead of opening you laptop and tracking ideas in your text editor make sure there’s enough pencils and paper around for all group members to draw their ideas.
Potter, M. C. & Faulconer, B. A. (1975). Time to understand pictures and words. Nature, 253, 437-438. 21.
van der Lugt, R. 2002. Functions of sketching in design idea generation meetings. In Proc. C&C ’02, ACM Press, 7279.
Image by Mike Rohde