Sketching with Mike Rohde at IxDA Grand Rapids

Do you sometimes struggle to communicate effectively with your teammates? Do you sometimes feel constrained by the widgets and tools offered by your computer-aided design tools? Perhaps some simple pencil-and-paper sketches can help you become unstuck!

This reminder that sketching is awesome was the topic of the May 2013 IxDA Grand Rapids event. Mike Rohde (pronounced /ɹoʊ.di/, if I heard correctly), of rohdesign, drove here from with Wisconsin to share his insights about sketching.

Mike Rohde Sharing a Sketch

Mike began by describing his experience sketching with the programmer of Pear Note for Mac. Through sketches, Mike and the programmer were able to easily communicate their respective ideas and opinions about the interface and user experience of the application. As Mike put it, the sketches were “not fancy. Very functional.” Perfect.

During this part of Mike’s talk, I was reminded a lot of Dan Roam’s discussion around verbal + visual communication. I read Dan’s books last year and can’t recommend them enough. Sketching is an awesome verbal + visual tool that has become invaluable for me! Mike and Dan’s suggestions also remind me of how we remember facts better when we combine the visual and verbal. I know that I retain more memories of team conversations when I’ve been drawing or looking at an idea’s visualization, instead of simply talking about an idea.

At this point Mike asked everyone in the room to form groups and start sketching new ideas for Pandora’s interface. Unfortunately I don’t have any artifacts leftover to share here, so I’ll simply say that everyone in the room was engaged and had a good time working together over some sketches.

Mike Rohde's Sketchbook Recommendations

Mike concluded his talk with some specific recommendations on sketchbooks, pencils, and other tools.


Pencils & other tools

  • Mechanical
  • Soft (HB B 2B)
  • Thick 07mm
  • Triangle
  • Kneadable eraser

Thanks for Mike Rohde for joining us this month! Be sure to check out his new book _The Sketchnote Handbook_, which looks awesome. Also, visit IxDA Grand Rapids’s meetup page for more information about upcoming events.