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I would class sketching as a tool, just as I would with Photoshop, Fireworks or any other app I use to help me create the finished product. For me, Sketching is an essential part of the design workflow that would make up a majority of projects.
As a tool, sketching is often the first thing I utilise during a project workflow, its use will vary depending on the project type, time restraints and your own workflow preference.
The Benefits Of Sketching
The role of sketching out ideas and mockups onto paper is essentially a personal choice, some people prefer to flesh out ideas and concepts with pen and paper whilst some people head directly into Photoshop or their code editor and simply start building from the concept they have in their head.
There is no right or wrong with either method, it is entirely your preference. I personally find sketching works for me and is a huge benefit both to my projects and clients.
Putting Ideas And Concepts To Paper
I find rapidly creating basic sketches, notes and concepts for projects helps me enormously as it provides me with direction and keeps me focused on the key concepts of the project.
By Sketching out designs and page layouts I am able to quickly get many ideas and concepts out of my head and onto paper.
This has a huge benefit in the long run as I am able to experiment with the various sketches and gradually rule out what works and what doesn’t, essentially keeping the project time down and avoiding the all to common creativity burnout syndrome.
Saving You Time & Improving The Finished Product
Without initial sketching I have found it all too easy to go straight into Photoshop or a code editor and endlessly play around with one often useless idea, only to loose focus of what the initial project brief is actually about and loose countless hours.
For me, spending time this way was simply inefficient, both in terms of cost and at the expense of the finished project.
Sketches Are Great Portfolio Additions
Keeping a sketchbook of your designs is a great addition to your portfolio, showing a finished product on your portfolio is often made more interesting by showing the process you used to create it.
Showing the projects life cycle from sketches to wireframes, to the code process to project completion is a great way to show how you work and the quality and value you can bring to a prospective clients project.
Improved Client Relationship & Communication
If your working on a project that requires regular client approval or communication, providing your client with your design sketches can help provide you with valuable direction and feedback.
A client will be able to quickly say what they like and dislike and this will save you countless hours, you will end up with a finished product that the client is happy with and one that they feel they have contributed to also.
Tools For Sketching Your Web Designs
When sketching I use an Action Method Dot Grid Book, the quality of the book is insane and it comes with me to every client meeting and has a place at my desk everyday, the Dot Grid Book uses 80lb Premium Blend paper with a dot matrix guide which is super handy when sketching and doodling.