The Physics of Santa article has made it’s way into my inbox ever since I had an email account. With the holidays just around the corner, I thought it’d be fun to sketchnote the analysis that makes me laugh every time I read it. It still made me laugh when I doodled it.
I have been sketchnoting for over a decade. It’s something that I’d do for my own personal benefit and at first I didn’t think of it as something that others would find interesting.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I even heard the term “sketchnote” and realized—with enormous enthusiasm—that it was even a thing.
Over the years, I began using sketchnotes in my career as well as variations of it to convey my ideas to clients and colleagues. I was surprised to see how disarming the approach could be, and found collaboration and conversation to be more productive as a result.
For me, there’s no better reason to sketchnote other than it’s just plain fun to do. In my experience, though, I’ve stumbled on plenty of other upsides for trading out traditional note-taking for this more visual approach.
Visual Thinking, Active Listening, Better Retention
Sketchnoting a presentation isn’t a linear process. Your notes—which will consist of a mix of lettering, words and images—will fill the page with a spatial quality. This makes it easier to create relationships between the ideas you capture.
Sketchnoting requires you to practice active listening in order to process information so that you can visualize it. This exercise can help you remember the ideas that went along with your notes for longer periods of time and with greater clarity than you would with a text outline.
Find Patterns in Your Notes
Most presentations or conversations land on a one or two themes throughout the session. The spatial quality of your sketchnotes will help you to see those themes from the talk. The patterns that reveal themselves can also provide you with a clearer understanding of the material that could otherwise go unnoticed.
Capturing the Story Instead of Writing the Dictation
Sketchnoting isn’t about dictation. It’s about capturing the ideas being conveyed. In order to sketch a visual of what’s being said, you’ll have to hold back so that you can internalize the message first. I’ve found that, in some cases, my own takeaways have made their way into my sketchnotes.
You’ll Want to Go Back and Look at Them
I never used to go back to look at my outlined notes. Instead, they’d sit on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere collecting dust. If I had to go back and refer to them, they wouldn’t make much sense to me. I would look down at a bunch of random sentences with barely any interest or context.
Sketchnotes, on the other hand, remain interesting and become more interesting to me over time. I’ll go back to them without any specific reason. When I look through them I can play the presentation back in my head the same way I play back events that surround an old photograph. I’ll even interpret my notes differently if my experience has grown around its topic since my last look.
Anyone who sketchnotes will tell you that you don’t have to be able to draw to start sketchnoting. I think the only requirement you need is to be comfortable with imperfection and mistakes. As I mentioned in a Mashable article a couple years ago, if I wasn’t comfortable with either, I’d never put down a single line.
Here’s a quick list of some excellent resources and sites worth checking out if you’re interested in the subject or want to give sketchnoting a shot:
- The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking
- The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently
Extra: The book Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer, is a great read if you’re interested in learning more about how we store memories. He also covers some of the tricks “mental atheletes” use to improve their memory for competition.
Many people in the interface design and user experience fields are jumping on the anti-hamburger nav bandwagon. In most cases, the strongest point for their position is that the icon—one of the oldest icons used in interface design—forces users to employ an extra click before being able to make a navigation selection. Read More
User Experience is more important than ever, however the discipline has become more nebulous.
People enter the field from different backgrounds and that variety, while valuable for this growing field, can confuse the uninitiated. Is it about creating wireframes? Prototypes? I thought that was what UI Designers and Developers did. Sitemaps? Weren’t sitemaps made by Information Architects? Don’t Content Strategists handle that now?