Kia ora! I'm Blair. I design fun, educational tools that help people take action.

Analog vs. Digital Design

Blair wrote this on 25 Jun


Here are two interesting posts about the value of writing / drawing by hand using analog tools instead of defaulting to digital all the time.

Clive Thompson, “The Pencil and the Keyboard: How The Way You Write Changes the Way You Think”

Nintendo used to design Super Mario levels on graph paper

In the age of the smart phone where digital notebooks are everywhere, this can seem counter intuitive.

For me, I often use a hybrid approach when creating stuff - I draw by hand (analog) on my iPad (digital). This year in particular I’ve started to keep several paper notebooks, each for a different purpose. Drawing and writing by hand and colouring them with crayons is definitely enjoyable. As Clive points out, there are benefits to using digital or analog depending on the context.

Change design is firstly about getting clarity. Project teams can get clarity by using design thinking, which is collaborative but also very hands on (whiteboards, drawing, sticky notes, etc). Often in a meeting we’ll have Excel or Word or MS Project open and we’re typing notes into our phone and doing a whole lot of digital stuff. Not only is this thinking often kept to ourselves (only we see it) but it’s also the wrong tool set for big picture, brainstormy, problem solving. Analog tools are more effective for these ideation and design contexts.

Do you use analog tools or do you default to digital (aka your laptop)? How have you used analog design methods to get clarity in meetings?


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