I used to be big on pen and paper, and at many moments I still fall back on it. I write my journal in a blank journal so that I can play with pens and paint as well as pencils. But more and more I do a lot of my design plans on my computer.
Some of the things I used to do only on paper were to plan out the basic layout. I would sketch the columns, put big boxes for the images, text, and other content. Then once I was happy with my sketch I’d get out my calculator (or a piece of scratch paper) and do math to see what kinds of grids I’d need to set up to create the layout that I wanted. But these days I do a lot of that on my computer.
I love my Wacom tablet. It lets me sketch my layouts just like I would on paper, but I don’t feel like I’m wasting paper when I cross something out or change the design mid-stream. For a site I’m working on now I’d have used at least ten pieces of paper, as I considered and threw out various designs.
But what I like best about prototyping on my computer is I can include dynamic elements like rollovers and flyouts directly. I don’t have to rely on my artistic abilities to represent a light box area or describe the animation effects. Instead, I can grab a library element and just slap it into my prototype. No, I almost never use the out-of-the-box library elements for my final designs (I love to tinker with things), but at least I can make my ideas clearer for the clients.
What about you? Do you still use pen(cil) and paper for your initial design work? If you do, how do you get it on the computer later? And if you don’t, what are your favorite tools or applications for doing your prototypes? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you have a minute or two, could you fill out the simple survey in the right column? I’d really appreciate it!