I love Sharpies – and not just for the smell…
More and more, I find myself reaching for a black marker and a sheet of graph paper to work on wireframes, process flows, and data schemas. I do this in spite of the myriad prototyping tool options out there.
Why? Because of what I call “the Lo-Fi Paradox”:
The Lo-Fi Paradox is the act of uncovering details in something while using rudimentary tools that you may have otherwise missed using more sophisticated tools.
When I draw on paper with a marker, I experience the Lo-Fi Paradox. As I draw rudimentary UI widgets and tables of data, I find myself thinking more about labels, spacing and user interactions. I start to think much more critically about what I’m putting down on paper and how I’m doing it. I may iterate through a concept three or four times before I think it’s “right”.
I get the same effect when designing data models and process flows for applications – I seem to uncover more fields, objects, steps, loops, exceptions and patterns when working with boxes and arrows on graph paper. Your brain has more time to think about the connection between two things as you physically draw a line between them. You give yourself a chance understand more about what you’re doing as you put arrows and anchors on your lines, scrawl a note in the margin, and circle a question mark for the third time.
Sometimes, I use my lo-fi drawings to communicate project features to the team. For client documents, I do switch over to a software app to finish the job, but I’m convinced I would not arrive at the same result with the same level of detail if I started and finished digital.
Next time you’re struggling with a technology problem, put down your laptop an reach for a notepad. Hopefully, you’ll experience the Lo-Fi Paradox too.