Thoughts on Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton

I’ve been following the work of Bill for some time, and finally got around to reading his book. While this is not a review, I’d like to share some thoughts.

Sketching User Experiences is a book about the process of user experience design of products - getting the right design and the design right.

Sketching User Experiences book cover

The first part of the book goes over the history and evolution of the field, some theory and concepts, and sets up the mindset for designing, while the second part examines practical techniques in the context of notable examples.

The key idea: trying many alternatives is important. For this to be feasible, the process and techniques must be quick and cheap. Literacy in the techniques and history is helpful in getting to a better end result.

One highlight that really stuck with me is the finding, detailed in the book (paraphrased by me): When presented with a single design, a group of users tend to rate it higher and criticize it less than other groups of users when presented with the same design together with a set of alternatives. For me this is convincing evidence that exploration of alternatives is important.

Although I imagine it might be basic for a trained UX designer, it was a good introduction for someone like me - a design enthusiast, interested in learning more about the field. Bill is also academically inclined, and thus provides a rich set of sources to explore the topics further.

A good read, but don’t necessarily expect a “How To” manual.

For those interested in Bill’s work, here’s a video of him going over some material in the book:

Sketching and Experience Design, Lecture at Standford University

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