I’m creating a site that is about using simple handwritten elements to design or communicate information– for non-artists. The practice is sometimes called “sketchnoting.”

Criteria for effectiveness of design


  •  Clean, simple banner image or logo using handwritten elements – not just a typical text header
  • Site is customized so it doesn’t appear identical to other out-of-the-box WordPress templates
  • Drawings accompanying each post that illustrate a concept
  • The design is visually clean and simple
  • Information is grouped and organized in a scannable way


  • It is immediately obvious what the purpose of the site is (via a tagline or widget that contains a concise explanation)
  • Posts are clearly tagged and organized, and headlines are clear and explanatory
  • Content in posts uses subheads, bullets, and other techniques to be maximally scannable
  • The site is simple to use, not overloaded with widgets or vague groupings of  information all weighted the same

Three potential audiences

  1. Technical writers. Technical writers are people tasked with explaining technical processes. Historically this has consisted of long text-based procedures or explanatory text. With the advent of the web and the attendant scarcity of attention, technical writers need new tools to explain things more efficiently.
  2. College students. College students are increasingly expected to incorporate visual elements into research via presentations, websites, and other multi-media projects. If students aren’t artists, how can they begin to approach this task?
  3. Writers. Writers of fiction and non-fiction have traditionally trafficked in words, but with the advent of HTML5 and other visual content display technologies, they will need to learn new skills to create and present content on new platforms. How can they begin to approach this conceptually?

3 competing sites


A web site gallery of sketchnoters, or people who use handwritten drawings to organize information.


  • Simplicity! Clear use of visuals in each post. Clean design with emphasis on the illustrations.


  • Sketchnote Army doesn’t contain how-to information or resources.



  • Simple visual design. Good categories under “visual thinking” menu item.  Tagline that explains site’s mission on first page.


  • Too much information, hard to tell where to get started, and what path to take.



  • Engaging writing style, sense of author’s personality, great posts buried in the site


  • Too much unclear promotional information ‘above the fold’

One response to “”

  1. Kathy E. Gill says :

    Cheryl – that’s a very clear design aesthetic – you are a hairs breath away from a wireframe. Now for purpose: do you want this site to be an educational tool (how to) or an inspirational tool (that’s what Sketchnote Army looks like)? VizThink, on the other hand, sounds like it wants to first be a community.

    What’s *your* primary goal?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: