Session type:
Hands-On

Session duration:
90 minutes

Presented by:

Makayla Lewis

Brunel University London

About this Hands-On

Lightweight sketches are often used by UX designers in the development and expression of experiences and complex content. They allow UX practitioners to better communicate and express their ideas and share designs with colleagues, users and clients.

Sketchnotes can enhance sketches, by including handwriting, simple drawing, shapes and visual elements such as connectors (arrows), and containers (boxes). Sketchnotes are fast, lightweight, easy to create, and - by varying their fidelity - can be an integral part of all stages of the UX process.

This flexibility makes sketchnotes a valuable tool to support the thinking process and communicate ideas to others. Therefore, competency in sketchnoting is a valuable tool for today's UX practitioner. This hands-on session will be divided into 5 parts:
  1. Background and examples - what are the significance and benefits of sketchnoting in UX? With examples from UX and neighbouring fields.
  2. Sketchnotes 101 - will encourage participants to find their personal style through a series of sketching exercises promoting confidence building and self-evaluation. Participants will be asked to sketch along with the instructor, following a series of best practice examples and fun exercises, that will be live drawn and digitally projected for immediacy, e.g. the humble line, people, facial expressions, actions, place, icons, connectors, separators, hand-drawn typography and scenes.
  3. Applied sketchnotes - participants will be given examples of how sketchnotes have successfully been used in UX, e.g. brainstorming, interviews, observation, personas, scenarios, storyboards, participatory design and reporting/dissemination. Participants will be given a series of practical exercises including interviewing their neighbours to produce a visual user narrative, UX improvs to produce storyboards, and a reproducibility activity where participants work in groups to look at whether different types of sketches get different results. The purpose of parts 2 and 3 is to offer participants a space to explore and develop their sketchnoting in UX skills whilst obtaining constructive feedback from the tutor.
  4. Q&A session followed by recommended resources.
  5. Co-created sketchnotes and UX cheat sheet - post-session, Makayla will put together visual outputs created by the participants into a 'Sketchnote 101 Cheat Sheet' to be used by the hands-on workshop and wider conference participants to support their practice.


Beginners are encouraged to attend - a background in sketching, illustration or sketchnotes is not needed. Tools required: Pen and paper.

About the Speaker

Makayla obtained a PhD in human-computer interaction (HCI) from City University London in 2012. She is formerly a research assistant on the Cyber Security Cartographies Project at Royal Holloway, University of London, and research associate on Cyber Security Body of Knowledge at InfoLab 21 University of Lancaster. She is now a research fellow on the Smart Money project at Brunel University London.

Makayla uses HCI, UX and visual methods to draw out an understanding of how people influence the management of their data and how they use social networks to extend and maintain this influence. Makayla is an accomplished visual thinker, sketcher and visual note taker; her sketchnotes have been featured in 3 books, and most recently in the Adobe Blog. Examples of Makayla's work can be seen on her website.

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