Terry Winograd, Professor, Stanford University,
author of Bringing Design to Software

In Sketching User Experiences, Buxton gave a compelling argument as to WHY sketching is so important to design. In this excellently-designed companion, he and his co-authors show HOW. I have been haranguing students for years with the message that they should be doing a lot of sketching, and this is the first guide I can really use to show them what it means and how it works.

On Amazon: 5.0 out of 5 stars:

One of a kind in it’s field! By M. Forr, January 29, 2012.

Over the past two years I’ve spent many evenings and weekends teaching myself everything I can about IA/UX/IxD and so have surveyed many of the books available. For the most part those books can be broken into two categories. The first are theory books (About Face 3Information Architecture for the World Wide Web) and design pattern books (Designing InterfacesDesigning Web Interfaces) (Not to mention user research books but that’s a whole different step of the process).Unfortunately, I haven’t found too many books that focus on the skills of sketching a user experience. I have read and worked through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Visual Meetings but found the first was really focused on fine art sketching and the later is really focused on meetings and sharing general ideas with people. Sketching User Experiences is a good in between that focuses on the practical skills of sketching interfaces and experiences and communicating that to others.

The book starts with very basic sketching exercises and by the end gets into really fun and tangible advanced techniques. Some of the more advanced techniques I loved involve creating sketches from photos, creating hybrid sketches (photos + sketches) and building poster board prototypes of physical devices. Each exercise in the book is discrete and has a clear set of instructions, an explanation of how it fits into the user-centered design process and references to follow up with. Each exercise was structured enough that if you want to pick and choose things to do it’s perfect for that.

All in all I would recommend this book for IA/UX/IxD professionals of all levels and anyone else who needs to communicate user experiences to others. I especially think this book would be useful for developers who are looking for a better way to express their ideas (or frustration) to clients, designers and other stakeholders because there is a big enough range of exercises that he should be able to find something that works.

The other place I would recommend this book would be for an advanced user interfaces undergrad/graduate level college course. There’s enough work in here to make for a -really- fun semester’s worth of work. I hope a professor picks this up and builds a course around it 🙂

Happy sketching 🙂

ACM Computing Reviews
Jeanine Meyer, Date Reviewed: Jun 29 2012, Review #: CR140330 (1211-1121)

This is an unusual book. While I am not sure of all the possible audiences or applications, I’ve already made use of its lessons, and I anticipate using it the next time I teach a course on creating user interfaces. The authors suggest and illustrate practical techniques for acquiring, developing, and documenting ideas for building user experiences, both working alone and in teams. Moreover, the book contains exercises that help those of us with little skill and even less confidence in drawing to improve our ability and reach a level sufficient for productive work.

The book is divided into 6 chapters. The first chapter, “Getting into the Mood,” includes a summary of Bill Buxton’s 2007 book [1]. Greenberg et al. recommend the earlier text, but indicate, and I agree, that this new book has value as an independent work. Chapter 2, “Sampling the Real World,” provides concrete suggestions on how to gather and document ideas. Chapter 3, “The Single Image,” contains explicit exercises for tasks such as line drawing, working in a group, using common office supplies such as Post-it notes to annotate sketches, creating effective collages with photographs and drawings, and using sheets of foam.

The authors then turn to the design of interactions, that is, portraying a person’s behavior over time. Chapter 4, “Snapshots in Time: The Visual Narrative,” focuses on storyboards. Chapter 5, “Animating the User Experience,” describes different techniques using specific software products and video to represent activity. The last chapter (6) builds on what was presented in the earlier sections, with practical advice for making presentations that get the most valuable feedback in short sessions (for example, “the elevator pitch”) and informal and formal meetings (“the crit”).

One might comment that the suggestions are commonsense and the exercises can be found in books on introductory drawing. This may be true, but the authors have put together a very broad collection of ideas, exercises, and psychological encouragement for becoming effective in developing and communicating designs.

Both individuals and small groups can use the book. I haven’t decided if I will use it as an idea book for when I’m teaching or if I will make it the required text for everyone in the class. If you are a teacher, I urge you to obtain a copy of the book and make your own call. In any case, I recommend taking the time to read the book and do the exercises.

From BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Don’t be put off by the title. This is a book for non-artists, albeit those developing user interfaces who recognise how much visual communication helps clients and colleagues understand design concepts. If, as a non-artist, you already produce ‘visuals’ you probably use software with a library of images and preformed shapes.

While digital has many powers, it loses spontaneity and versatility, which can be essential in enabling a responsive and flexible design process. So, as the authors are all experts in the design process for devices involving human interaction, they encourage the reader to use visual methods appropriate to the stage of the process.

This book is really about enabling your own creativity, so ‘how to sketch’ only takes up a single chapter. Scribble sketching is used to capture ideas that arrive out of context at any time, any place. Building on this, simple sketching basics show how stickmen drawings and screen page mock-ups can be used to illustrate activities.

Digital drawing has its own chapter, which includes using Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote to create animated sequences. Throughout the reader is encouraged to combine both digital and hand-drawn methods wherever appropriate.

The more complex parts of the development process are also covered. So as well as the narrative storyboard, there are ideas for diagrams to record changing states and transitions, sequential storyboarding and illustrating interaction decisions over time. The final chapter is about how to involve users and capture their reactions and feedback to designs before making amendments.

This is a very positive book for the non-artist. It is profusely and relevantly illustrated and has a 50:50 balance between print and illustrations, which makes it very easy to dip into for ideas. The layout of the 250 pages is a demonstration of how uncluttered layout combined with simple design produces a highly effective teaching tool. To reinforce the point, there is also a detailed index.

Barnes and Noble
Fringe Independent Review, Date Reviewed: May 19, 2012

***** Very Very Highly Recommended!!

Are you a person who wants to learn, understand, practice and even teach experience design? If you are, then this book is for you! Authors Saul Greenberg, Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicolai Marquardt and Bill Buxton, have done an outstanding job of writing a book that will serve as a how-to guide to actual sketching methods. Greenberg, Carpendale, Marquardt and Buxton, begin by explaining why user experience designers need to consider sketching, and how sketching user experiences differs from normal sketching. In addition, the authors show you how to capture, store, organize and review ideas inspired by photos, magazine cutouts, web pages, and other found objects. They then show you how to use common office supplies to create designs that are easily altered on the fly. The authors then, introduce the sequential storyboard as a visual narrative that captures key ideas as a sequence of frames unfolding over time. They continue by explaining how to animate a single interaction sequence as a slide show through image registration. Finally, the authors show you several review processes ranging from the informal to the formal, where you can get others to react to your designs. The methods in this most excellent book do not require high or even intermediate levels of artistic skills. Perhaps more importantly, this book is richly illustrated with many sketches, all which the authors created, using the various sketch methods they introduced.