Where do you keep your ideas?
While we've been discussing the different kind of design challenges you might face through a varied career, and I've provided you with various methods and tools to come up with solutions to those ideas, we haven't talked much about where you store those ideas and reference them in the future. Keeping a sketchbook is the best way to capture both ideas and the processes by which you iterate those ideas into a coherent form.
I saw a lovely presentation by Tim Wood of the company Effective UI on this topic a few weeks ago, and he had a few great points about keeping a sketchbook that I thought would be helpful for you.
Resolve your designs in steps. When keeping a sketchbook, don't think that you need to draw the design in all of its glorious finality. Record your progression of thinking, from the high-level concept down to the steps necessary to render that idea. Then you can fashion the details as their own individual sketches, and bring it all together in the computer.
When you were putting together your user flow project in class, you were taking part in this process backwards, from details to overall flow. But when you're working on a design concept, as opposed to a user flow, you start with your concept/vision and then work into the particulars.
Resolve complexity as needed. I've been hammering on using a pencil and paper for as long as you can before you hop into the computer, but you can't figure it all out with a sketch. Sketching can only elaborate complexity.
Cluster your ideas. Find relationships. See how things relate. This is a function of the SCAMPER checklist I shared with you in the first week of class.
Draw/redraw the same idea to find new ones. Sketching is a type of thinking. You can passively stimulate new ideas by simply redrawing an existing one. Don't feel like you need to be in control of the pencil.
Overdraw. Don't apply boundaries to your ideas. Let sketches and words overlap, fuse together, and suggest new ideas.
Never erase. I've been seeing you scratch out ideas in class as we brainstorm and critique. See what happens if you don't erase. Layer things up. Allow mistakes to mingle with "good" ideas. Sometimes great ideas come out of the marriage of the two.
Notate sketches. Capture your thoughts about those visual ideas you've drawn through the sketchbook. Describe the details and subtleties.
Cut, paste, and stick in material from the outside world. Feel free to include extra layers in your sketchbook, plus those little napkin sketches that happen when you don't happen to have your sketchbook around.
Return to the notebook when it's full. If you're solving a similar kind of problem, see what kind of thinking you applied to it in the past.
I hope Tim's thinking here helps you as you work through your designs for the rest of this class and beyond. I'm waiting for his presentation to get uploaded to the Internet, so I can point you all to it to see his visual examples!