Paper, I choose you!

Starting a project on paper helps us distribute time in a much more efficient manner. That’s why, we leave our computer aside, grab an actual paper notebook a pencil and just draw away!

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When someone I’ve just met asks me what do I do for a living, I say I spend all day drawing. It’s funny because I think saying I design apps and websites is only scratching the surface, while putting it in such an innocent way is many a times more accurate than the longest, professional version.

Most of the times, I feel like a kid when I do my job. It only takes me a second to realize I’m surrounded by lots of sheets, colors, a sketch board full of drawings, stamps and gadgets.  Quite a mess, really. Anyway, although I get the feeling of being stuck in time, I never forget I’m actually a quasi-adult with responsibilities. Nor do I forget that startups trust my judgement and expect me to puzzle out their every need.

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Why paper?

My experience has taught me that projects come and go, but the one thing that must never change is work methodology. Being methodical allows processes to flow better, and the formula I keep stressing at Aerolab includes paper, lots of paper.

Beginning a new project on paper helps to allocate time much more efficiently. In fact, if an app or landing page don’t work at this stage, it is most likely that they won’t work in real life, when we have already applied the visual design.

Suppose, for instance, that you invest two weeks in a design and then you have to throw it away because it wasn’t the best choice. Having invested that much time in improving something that we weren’t yet sure it would work may turn out to be a big problem. In light of this, when we work in the development of digital products the best thing to do is to adopt a design-and-throw-away mentality mentality, one of trying just for the sake of trying. What’s more, we must get rid of our fears —of embarrassment, of “making a mistake”, of creating something “ugly”.

When working with a product we need to know that most of what we do will probably end up in the trash. But guess what? Paper is so disposable you can even recycle it!

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let’s forget the computer for a while

Working with startups means having everything done yesterday and taking care of their famous roadmap. That’s why, whether it’s an app or a landing page, we must be very clear about the first thing that needs to be done: setting up a skeleton, i.e. a structure, as fast as you can.

If we, for example, carry out that part of the process on Sketch or Photoshop, we’ll end up tangled in visual details that don’t deserve our attention at this stage —typography, color palette, style design, etc.

Because of this, and in order to maximize our time, we need to get as far away as possible from any aspect of visual design. This —to me, at least— means brushing aside the computer, grabbing a sketchbook and a pencil and start drawing.

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Faster, endless features and no compatibility problems

No matter our educational background, we all know how to use a pencil and draw lines. We don’t need to be architects or have the best handwriting to do it. It could be said that each one of us is an expert user of both pencil and paper. After all, we have been using them since forever!

Before we get cracking, we need to know that we’re not going to ace it on our first try. In fact, the best thing to do is to create dozens of alternatives before making a final decision (although they don’t need to be entirely different from each other). At this early stage, quantity is more important than quality.

So, folks, if you want to plunge into the world of digital product design, get yourselves a nice sketchbook, a pencil with a good stroke and several cups of hot chocolate, for if you take our course on How to become a Product Designer, you’ll probably feel like you have hopped into the DeLorean. ¡Get ready ‘cause we’re about to spend a lot of time doodling like we were kids!

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Article originally written for Platzi.com