CigTrack Day #5: Sketching


Sketching is a more powerful tool than most imagine. Also it’s a lot of fun. It’s putting your mind on paper, in the awesome messy ways if graphite and ink! Today I want to show two screens of the app I’m building.


Since I had to spend some time on a train today, I knew I’d be willing to sketch, since it can be a bother to unpack your computer in overly crowded trains and if you frequently have to move, because you’re sitting on the ground some where, it’s just a lot more practical to just hold on to a sketchbook.

Now I’m on train number 2 and I have space and time to blog about it.

Sketching Your App

If you’re a visual person you probably know that sketching and scribbling is awesome and you do it where you find a plain sheet of paper anyways. If you’re a developer you might be more skeptical. Here’s what sketching actually accomplishes.

You generate an abstract specification of your app, you visualise what it needs to be able to do and what it should look like. Looking at my photo below, we see two screens. One of them shows the default view, the one I expect to be the default and the most frequently used.


The first shows the amount of cigarettes smoked/tracked today and a button to increment that counter.

The second one displays a statistics screen that shows a visual representation of the amount in the past week and a trend, compared to the previous time-span tracked.

As a designer you right now might have ideas how to make this all really beautiful, which animations should happen on certain actions or how you could make the graph could look fantastic.

As a developer you probably think about arrays of objects, which information you need to store, which UI components you can re-use and how performant some of these features are going to be.

Understanding Your App

Visual representation is important to understand your app/product/project, what ever you work on. It’s important for stakeholders (I have none), the rest of your team (I have none), but also for yourself.

We tend to forget stuff, lose track of the bigger picture and it’s a really natural thing. Sketches can capture a vast amount of information, which helps us remember, also since we engage more intelligences and senses in the creation.

Not only to understand how you want your app to work, but also how to understand which of your ideas for it might be better or worse, sketching helps.


Throughout my studies I have encountered a bunch of academical methods for all kinds of things. Many of them were limited in their usefulness, which probably is the fault of my own level of interest, since I just wanted to build things.

The approach of Bill Buxton to sketching though, has really stuck with me and it’s been a very valuable asset.

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