Why Writing With Our Hands Is Still Important | readwrite.com

I first noticed something was off when I went to pay my rent one month. The window for a timely online transfer of funds was closing, so to get the money to my landlord in time, I’d have to do something unusual. I took out my checkbook, grabbed a pen and started writing the date.

It felt weird. My hand cramped a little, churning out numbers and letters with the slightest – but still noticeable – discomfort. My handwriting sucked. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t actually written anything by hand in a long, long time. Just a few years earlier, I kept a paper journal by my bed and would buy three-packs of Moleskin notebooks for brainstorming, sketching and jotting things down. What happened?

Why Writing With Our Hands Is Still Important John Paul Titlow

Over the course of the last four or five years, several little computers have found their way into my life. Bit by bit, my professional and creative existence made the transition to an entirely digital universe. At my old job managing digital publishing for a newspaper, the iPad soon replaced my spiral notebook in meetings. Then I left the print world to work on the Internet full-time. I could even sign my freelance contracts with my finger on an iPad.

Who needed paper? Isn’t the future amazing? Look, more tweets. Wait, what was I saying?

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Paper Prototyping and 5 Analog Tools for Web and Mobile Designers

1stwebdesigner - Web Design Blog

Designers love analog tools. No wonder. These tools lets us physically interact with interfaces and speed up the design process, like paper prototyping. What takes hours in the digital world can be sketched out in a matter of minutes.

That’s why analog methods of prototyping are especially valuable right at the beginning of projects – when speed matters the most. Working with paper, or perhaps a whiteboard, can accelerate the speed of our learning loops. Sketch, feedback, sketch, feedback, sketch feedback – you can go through dozens of iterations in one day and you’ll set solid foundations for the rest of the work. Consider it kind of premium insurance. Getting rough feedback quickly can save you a lot of work.

No wonder, according to research by Todd Zaki Warfel, paper prototyping is still the most commonly used prototyping method! Yes, while we tend to disagree if we should code prototypes or just use prototyping software, the use of analogue tools in our design process is unquestionable! Honestly, I don’t know any designer who is not going through early stage paper prototyping sessions.

Of course in paper prototyping we pay the price of low-fidelity and while it might not be a problem for your team to discuss lo-fi deliverables, in my experience, it’s always a problem for stakeholders. To avoid misunderstandings and accusations that you’re playing with paper instead of working, just make paper prototyping an internal method for your team.

Analogue methods are supported by User Experience pioneers such as Bill Buxton, author of Sketching User Experience and Carolyn Snyder author of Paper Prototyping. They highly recommend breaking away from the computer once in a while and collaboratively work on the analog side of the design moon. According to them, paper prototyping:

  • keeps all team members motivated (as they can easily participate in paper prototyping sessions)
  • lets designers iterate quickly and gather feedback very soon in the process
  • gives designers freedom since paper has no boundaries

preview large goodprototypingbook design tools design tips design

And though many believe that the rise of tablets may end paper prototyping in the next couple of years, I’d disagree. The physical nature of paper prototyping, its speed and straight forward form (understandable by anyone), makes it unbeatable by any digital gadget. Tablet devices are just another medium of digital prototyping (perhaps better than computer, who knows…) than replacement of analog methods.

In recent years we can observe attempts to optimize paper prototyping by the creation of dedicated tools. I tried most of them and I’m addicted to some (UXPin, UI Stencils). They hugely improved my workflow. Dedicated paper prototyping tools gave me speed that exceeds everything that I tried before. I feel more professional with a well crafted notepad in hand than a crumpled piece of paper with messy sketches on it. This confidence helps me discuss my analog work both with teammates and stakeholders. Most of the tools that I present below have been around for couple of years and I guess they’re doing great.

My fingers are crossed for these brave entrepreneurs.

Have fun!

Note: At the end of article I listed some of my favourite printable templates – they are ready to use and FREE!

UXPin – Paper prototyping notepads

Popular paper prototyping notepads with an original idea. User Interface elements are printed on separate sticky notes, which let you quickly create prototypes and iterate by re-sticking parts of the interface. Additionally, notepads are equipped with a sketchbook (with printed browser/iPhone), project kick-off and personas forms, as well as diagramming, gridded, paper. Hard-covered, well-designed and beautifully crafted books are $29.99 with free DHL delivery to USA, Canada and EU, if you buy any 3 of them. Since people from Google, IBM, Microsoft use them – UXPin notepads has sort of become an industry classic.

Finished prototypes can be auto-converted into digital, HTML, wireframes by UXPin App and this is one of the coolest things I have ever seen in the User Experience Design field.

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Design Inspiration: Watercolor Effects

http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/galleries/watercolors/Watercolor effects are commonly used by web and graphic designers. In this post we’ll provide some inspiration by showcasing more than 40 items for your inspiration. This showcase includes some watercolor paintings as well as some examples of digital watercolor effects, and we’ll conclude the post by featuring examples of websites that make use of watercolor effects. 

Using watercolor effects in your own work doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Although you can certainly create your own custom graphics, using a set of watercolor brushes for Photoshop, or even a set of watercolor textures, can save you time and allow you to quickly create the effects.

Watercolor Design Inspiration

Credit: Nicole Guice

Watercolor Design Inspiration

Credit: Karen Kurycki

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Why Paper Is Still One of THE Most Important and Useful Design Tools You Have

(…) Abstract

5 Cool Ways to Use Paper in Your Office

So how can you integrate paper into your workflow other than simply drawing on your desk? Here’s five suggestions:

Clip Board

A personal favorite of mine, the clip board is portable and can store extra paper. It’s where I currently do most of my sketching.

Drafting Table

If you have the room, a drafting table can be an awesome addition to your office. It’s not only a good place to draw, but oftentimes they can store your supplies and some even come with their own light source. Many have an adjustable surface as well to make time spent there as ergonomic as possible.

Electronic Paper

Smart paper systems like that from Livescribe combine the best of paper and the digital realm. Everything you write can be recorded for playback, searched and shared. The accompanying pen even comes with apps.


An easel can be a great platform for creating quick charts or wireframes but is probably not best suited for logo sketching.

Hang On Wall

What’s to stop you from tacking up a huge sheet of paper on your wall? This could be a great addition to your office, especially if you want to reference your sketches from time to time without rummaging through a messy stack of papers.

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Is page reading different from screen reading?

Thanks to Maryn McKenna for tweeting David Dobbs‘s Wired article: Is page reading different from screen reading? Excerpt (but read the whole article):

I revise effectively both onscreen and on paper, but I revise differently on paper. I work more at a macro scale. I’m more sensitive to proportion and rhythm and timbre. I see spaces and densities better: the clumps where the prose has grown too dense, the wandering of the path where I ramble, the seams that need to be closed, the misaligned joint that I suddenly realize — yeah; there it is! — is where that paragraph from three pages ahead belongs.

As Jonah asks, Why? Is the manuscript’s physicality giving me a greater sense of physical proportion? Does the act of pressing slickened grooves into the page with my fountain pen somehow invite a corresponding mental penetration? Is the curved, flexible rigidity of five sheets in my hand sharpening my awareness of texture? Or perhaps the slowness of my pen relative to the speed of my typing favors this more structural approach — big cross outs, sections circled and moved wholesale, massive reorganizations planned with quick scribbles in the margin — over the finer-grained tweaks and cutting-and-pasting the keyboard seems to encourage. Seguir leyendo “Is page reading different from screen reading?”

70 Free High Quality Paper Texture Packs

Posted by Vartika

Photoshop Textures are really helpful for designers to create beautiful backgrounds. In the past we compile lots of useful textures for our readers. If you miss them then you can read them here Wooden Textures, Metallic Textures, Water Textures, Rust TexturesAbstract Textures and Jeans Textures.



10 Old Paper Textures


Paper Textures 01


Custom Made Old Paper Pack


Textures : Paper


Old Paper

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Designing and Producing Creative Business Cards: Techniques and Details

Plenty of creative business card showcases are available out there. Many of these are beautifully done and well thought out, and they serve as inspiration for those who would like their business card to be more than the standard rectangular piece of paper. Yet little explanation accompanies these examples, and figuring out just how to bring your idea to life can be overwhelming, to say the least. This guide is meant to help you decide which technique is right for you, how to correctly prepare the files and what to look for in a printer.

General Advice

Content Goes First

I never tire of repeating this to anyone who will listen. Don’t base your business card design on the fact that your printer has a special limited-time offer on round corners or metallic inks.

Think in terms of what the design will add to your message. Tempted to use rounded corners just because the cool kids are doing it? Maybe your card would stand out more by not using this technique.

Why do you want metallic ink? Do you think your name would really stand out in gold, even though your message is all about technology and recent code developments? You may want to rethink that. Or do you sell hand-crafted jewelry and want a design that reflects your latest silver creation? Then the silver ink might be the perfect solution for you after all.

The back of a business card is often ignored, but it can be a great place for extras that make your card even more memorable. Make it relevant to what you do, and make it useful if you can. You could include tips or a quick how-to guide relevant to your product, offer a free consultation, add a reminder for a date when you will offer discounts, or invite loyal customers to collect a stamp every time they purchase from you. Think of something that would make them want to hang onto your business card and consult it often. If you think the back should be reserved for note-taking, why not mark a few dotted lines, titled “Notes,” rather than leave it blank?

Talk to Your Printer

No one knows more about the techniques and materials available—and new ones come out all the time. Generally, printers are more than happy to give you all the industry news and advise you on techniques and materials. (If yours isn’t, you might want to look for a new printer.) If you learn a little about how they operate, they will appreciate it and be even more willing to help.


While this article focuses on custom shapes and sizes, keep in mind standard sizes, too. Card holders are made to fit standard size cards, and I have often heard comments like, “If a business card doesn’t fit in my wallet, I don’t care how beautiful it is, it’s going in the trash.”

The standard sizes are 3.5 x 2 inches in the US and Canada, 85 x 55 mm in the European Union and 90 x 55 mm in Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia. Or you could use a standard credit card as a reference, which about 85 x 54 mm or 3.34 x 2.25 inches.

Unless you have some other use for your cards in mind (for example, a bookstore’s card that doubles as a bookmark), you’ll want to stay within those dimensions. Smaller is okay, but anything too big won’t fit in most pockets, so consider going bigger only if you have reason to believe your cards will not be stored in wallets or holders.

Do you have the perfect idea but don’t know what to do with it? Maybe you’ve heard about die-cutting, varnishes, metallic inks, letterpressing and special materials but are unsure what they are exactly or which one is for you? Let’s jump into the different techniques!


Any card (or any printed material for that matter) that isn’t a standard rectangle or that has holes in it is created by a technique known as die-cutting. A metal template is prepared and is used to cut the paper in the given shape. The easiest way to think about this is to picture a giant hole-puncher, except that the holes are not necessarily round, but rather whatever shape you want them to be.

This means that, in addition to the artwork, you will need to provide the printer with a custom shape to “punch out” your cards.

The result can be as simple a round hole in the center of your card or as complex as a three-dimensional pop-out.

Optimum in Designing and Producing Creative Business Cards: Techniques and Details
This simple and effective design makes use of the round hole on both sides of the card.

Bizcards03 in Designing and Producing Creative Business Cards: Techniques and Details
This card takes the shape of the product. Instant recognition!

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Pragmatic Brainstorming for Productivity

By Georgina Laidlaw

For many of us, brainstorming is a lot like play: it’s something we used to do in the golden age of youth, but these days, we have serious work to do, and have no time for futzing around with different colored pens and butcher paper.

In some workplaces and industries, a strong reliance on processes can reduce the perceived need, opportunity and respect for brainstorming as a valid work process. Where brainstorming does take place, it’s often on a “corporate retreat” and adopts a cheesy, hackneyed air — the inference being that it’s not “real work.”

I find brainstorming an immensely helpful process, and I think one of the reasons it’s so commonly dismissed as a frivolity is that few people actually know how to take the outputs of brainstorming and apply them to whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing. Here, I’d like to outline some tips for getting the most out of brainstorming — including applying what you learn. Seguir leyendo “Pragmatic Brainstorming for Productivity”

Amazing Examples of Paper Art

Henry Jones

When most people think of art involving paper, they think of drawing, sketching, or maybe painting. However, there are very talented people out there that create art from paper in more unusual ways. I’m talking about paper art that involves creative forms of cutting, folding, and carving. Materials for this type of art can vary, ranging from ordinary paper to whole books. To inspire you and let you see what other things artists are doing with paper, we’ve collected some pretty amazing works for you to enjoy.

To learn more about each work and the artist, just click on the image.

paper art

paper art

paper art

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How to Design Your Business Card

As web designers and developers, we often overlook printed marketing materials.  But on occasion, they can come in very handy: at conferences, when we meet face-to-face with clients, or when we happen to run into someone we might want to do business with. Having business cards is a great way to promote yourself in the physical world.  Of course, since web design is a creative field, you’ll want your business card to serve as a sort of mini portfolio that displays your skills. You should put the same time and energy into designing your business cards that you put into designing a website.  And the skills necessary to design a business card can be easily adapted from those that are required to design a website. Read on for more information about how to design your business cards.

Size and Shape

Standard business cards are 2″ x 3.5″, in either vertical or horizontal orientation. Horizontal is more traditional, but plenty of people and companies now opt for vertical layouts.

There are a few benefits to the standard sizing, the primary one being that it’s generally less expensive because it’s common. The other big benefit is that it is immediately recognizable as a business card, and will fit in standard business card holders.

But just because business cards are traditionally a 2″ x 3.5″ rectangle doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from that size and shape. With modern printing and cutting techniques, virtually any size and shape can be used for your business cards.

Die cut cards are particularly popular. Some opt for a traditional rectable, but with rounded corners or some kind of cutout shape within the card.

Others opt for an entirely custom shape, often reflecting their logo or a company theme or mascot. Just remember that anything too complex is likely to get bent or otherwise misshapen, which may defeat its purpose.

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30+ Business Card Design Ideas That Will Get Everyone Talking

Written by: Charlotte

Business cards; don’t leave home without it. Business cards are a means of passing on your contact details to potential partners or customers. It is a traditional tool of the trade that cannot be overlooked despite how small and insignificant it might appear to be.

More than just pieces of paper with a person’s contact details, business cards have become mandatory if one would like to create a foothold in the corporate world. Business cards today are not used solely for the purpose of exchanging contact details. They are also used as a marketing tool. It is an advertisement for the company listed on the card, and is a reminder to the recipient of the card what the company can offer as well as who they can contact for whatever purpose.

30+ Business Card Design Ideas That Will Get Everyone Talking

Business cards have been an integral part of trading, but in more recent times, business cards have transcended its basic role and become a tool in sophisticated marketing as well.

Faceless Tool of First Impressions

Your business card is a faceless but very important tool that helps you form a crucial first impression on whoever you are trying to impress. It is this very reason that one must take great care when considering the design, layout, size and even shape of your business card.

Information given on the business card is fundamental and the importance of its clarity is a given. However, also consider the type of paper stock used, the design on the card, and the colors of the ink etcetera. ‘Boring’ is not a good first impression you want to make. Avoid being mundane. Think outside the box, or in this case, think outside the standard card template. Bear in mind that to stand out and give yourself an edge from the competition, you have to start with your business card.

The World Beneath the Feet of Networking

Networking is of the utmost importance to a freelancer. When you distribute your business cards, there is a chance that recipients of your card might pass it on to other potential clients. Consider your business card as an investment in mobile promotion and advertisement for who you are, what you do, as well as a glimpse of your creativity can achieve. Turn your business card into a 3-in-1 networking tool; contact details factsheet, advertisement, and mini-portfolio.

30+ Innovative Cards

Here are some innovative business cards that might give you a creative boost and spur you to pay more attention to your own business card and the cards others give you.





Koji Sueyoshi






Blooming Card

Blooming Card









Nate Ping

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Wallpaper: Find your pot of Gold

Author Larissa March
This leprechaun was an exploration of simple shapes and subtle texture.

Yes, in March leprechauns and the color green are cliché.   So, I chose to embrace that cliché and focus on exploring a specific illustrative technique which includes elements of playful awkwardness and subtle texture.

For this leprechaun, I chose to exaggerate his features by choosing a top-down perspective resulting in intentional distorted proportions. His head is big and his feet are small.  The first step was to sketch him out using old-school pencil and paper.


Next, I brought him into Photoshop and added color with a focus on creating depth playing with the contrast of light and dark values. Finally, I added subtle textures to enhance the volume of the shapes and create tangibility beyond a flat illustration.



Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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