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Essential Concepts of Sketching

1. Sketching is essential to ideation and design

2. Sketching is not the same as prototypes

3. Sketching is embodied cognition to aid invention


Sketching vs Prototyping

Evocative vs. Didactic
Suggest vs. Describe
Explore vs. Refine
Question vs. Answer
Propose vs. Test
Provoke vs. Resolve
Tentative vs. Specific
Noncomittal vs. Depiction


Benefits of Sketching

1. Everyone can sketch; you do not have to be artistic

2. Most ideas are conveyed more effectively with a sketch than with words

3. Sketches are quick and inexpensive to create; they do not inhibit early exploration

4. Sketches are disposable; there is no real investment in the sketch itself

5. Sketches are timely; they can be made just-in-time, done in-the-moment, provided when needed

6. Sketches should be plentiful; entertain a large number of ideas and make multiple sketches of each idea

7. Textual annotations play an essential support role, explaining what is going on in each part of the sketch and how


What do models describe?

1. Relationships

2. Parts that make up wholes

3. Structures that bind them

4. How parts behave in relation to one another


Framework/conceptual model

Represents some aspect of the experience such as elements, organization, dynamism or movement, scale or behavior over time


What are models good for?

1. Supports sense-making

2. Support communication and learning

3. Help bridge the gap between observing and making, between research communities and design communities.

4. Integrate your data or findings from research into a meaningful structure or map of the opportunities they present.

5. Help you think.


Models as Theories

Models are conjectures, hypotheses, theories.

1. We create models “inferring the most likely story to explain the evidence.”

2. Models help us recognize new situations as similar to others we have encountered. Without a model, recognizing the similarities might be difficult.

3. Models also help us predict likely futures: what actions other actors may take, consequences of those actions, and what actions best respond to threats or most efficiently help us pursue our goals.


Models Evolve

Learning involves FORMING models and REFORMING them based on feedback.

We observe some behavior in our environment; it suggests models, which we use to predict future behavior and guide our actions.

Additional observations provide feedback, which helps us revise and refine our models — we learn.


Models Affect What We See

Observations shape models

Models [are] so powerful in affecting what we do... because they affect what we see. Two people with different mental models can observe the same event and describe it differently, because they’ve looked at different details.


Models As Stories

We explain models by telling stories, and when we tell stories, listeners form models—mental pictures of the actors, how they are related, and how they behave.


How are models "boundary objects" according to Star?

Models are “boundary objects,” artifacts that enable discourse at the boundaries between communities of practice.


Sharing Models

By sharing our models, we may be able to confirm where we agree—and discover where we disagree.

Models provide a basis for shared understanding, agreement, and group action.

Models build trust and enable collaboration.


Models in Design

Models and modeling are the HEART of all design.

1. Services and computer applications are partly hidden.

2. Using models, designers can unify otherwise separate artifacts and actions.


Services and computer applications are partly hidden.

1. Can stretch across time and space.

2. Cannot be seen all at once or from a single vantage point.

3. Models stand in for systems during analysis, design, operation.


What is the ESSENCE of design (according to Buxton & Dubberly)?



How are models thinking outside the box & "meta-activity" according to Dubberly?

Creating or revising a model is meta-activity, taking us outside the primary activity in which we were engaged. It requires attention, energy, and time.


How are models "voodoo dolls" according to Kay?

We do most of our thinking in models. (Models for Sense-Making)


What is a model according to Robinson?

“A useful representation of how experience is organized for (the user/stakeholder) and a brief explanation of each part of it.”


Advantage of Modeling (according to Bertalanffy)

The advantage is in the fact that this is the way to create a theory—i.e., the model permits deductions from premises, explanation and prediction, with often unexpected results.


Danger of Modeling (according to Bertalanffy)

The danger is oversimplification: to make it conceptually controllable, we have to reduce reality to a conceptual skeleton—the question remaining whether, in doing so, we have not cut out vital parts of the anatomy.

The danger of oversimplification is greater, the more multifarious and complex the phenomenon is.


Criteria for Judging Models

1. Fit
2. Least means
3. Consistency
4. Hierarchy
5. Predictive value
6. Final test with audience



1. How does the model fit the evidence?
2. Is it reliable?
3. Is it sufficiently granular? — sufficiently deep?
4. Do we have enough evidence to draw meaningful conclusions? Does it have sufficient breadth?
5. Are the elements of the model necessary and sufficient?


Least Means

Is there a simpler way to explain the evidence?

1. Given two models explaining the same evidence, prefer the simpler.
2. Are the elements of the model “MECE”— mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive?



1. Is the model internally consistent?
2. Is it free from contradiction?


Predictive Value

1. What predictions does the model make?
2. Are our model’s predictions consistent with later observations?
3. Do the model’s predictions help us make decisions that might have been more difficult without them?



1. How do the elements of a system appear to fit together?
2. Is the structure of the system clearly visible?
3. Do we know where to look first?
4. Can we find a clear path through the model?


Final test with audience

1. Does the audience UNDERSTAND it?
2. Do they AGREE with it?
3. Do they agree that they agree?
4. Will they ACT on it?