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This is a sincere question. I see a lot made of UX artifacts' value, most often from the perspective of UX professionals. I'm interested in how theory translates to practice to derive value from some beautiful looking artifact like a sketch note (or big pile of them.)

Any practical examples anyone can think of?

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There is definitely value in delivering information or messages in more than one way, and sketch-noting does this by reducing the length of texts and converting them into images, and connecting it together in a narrative. In a way it forces the presenter to be more succinct or precise with the words, and for the images to be more powerful in conveying the message. In most cases this is pre-recorded or done live so I think it is just another variation of a presentation style that is getting all the attention at the moment (remember PeChaKucha?)

I wouldn't go so far as to say it is more effective (since it depends on how well the imagery is presented and delivered), but for certain people it is definitely more engaging because they don't like reading text.

I don't think there's been any solid research into how well the information is retained or how this ultimately impacts on the learning process.

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  • Thanks Michael. Totally agree that people should know how to tell a story different ways, especially for something like user research. I've seen many sketchnotes, and I think they're often beautiful to look at but it's not always clear to me what they're meant to convey as they're usually very dense.
    – Luke Smith
    Jul 20, 2017 at 23:49
  • @LukeSmith As I mentioned before, it is not always effective in terms of delivering content because as you say it can be rather dense, but as it is currently the flavour of the month due to its perceived ability to engage a broader range of audiences, I guess we'll be seeing it around for a while (like infographics and various forms of data visualization).
    – Michael Lai
    Jul 21, 2017 at 2:42
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Beyond the initial charettes and design reviews, we treat sketches, notes and other artifacts as a hope or promise, a direct and idealized imagining of the core value proposition, and we very often return to them when we feel the polished spec is either falling short or becoming overscoped. It's a great strategy for staying on-target across sprints.

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  • Thanks for the reply Nathan. With regards to the notion of using sketch note artifacts to stay "on target" across sprints, how the heck do you overcome subjective interpretation? No two sketch notes I've seen are alike, so it seems like an ink blot test.
    – Luke Smith
    Jul 22, 2017 at 20:08
  • That's exactly what makes them valuable. It's not meant to be overcome. The immediacy of sketch notes affords a level of fidelity, not to pixel perfection, but to the core value proposition. Interpretation and subjectivity are both inherent and necessary. Highly-wrought specs and comps can easily, in their quest for pixel precision, actually lose this quite rapidly. With regards to interpreting specific items, so long as the note taker remains to expose intention and contextualize the various idiosyncrasies of their note taking, clarity is achieved through conversation and collaboration. Jul 22, 2017 at 21:43

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