I joke about these awesome metal wireframe and mockup stencils being old school like anyone was designing websites in the hayday of engineering stencils and whatnot. But putting together a wireframe in any of the many online wireframing tools has one, big problem for me…

Beautiful iPhone stencil kit from UI Stencils

They’re online, in front of a computer screen. (That’s actually two problems, but whatever). That’s a problem (for me) for a number of reasons. Distractions is one obvious one, online/offline is another, and my last “issue” is somewhat of an intangible.

I can easily find myself distracted by Facebook, email, and the 27,000 open browser tabs. It’s not a question of willpower — when I’m doing there is no issue. The distraction pops up when I’m thinking, trying to solve a problem, drawing inspiration. Once that happens… In fact, I’m working in the WordPress distraction-free mode right now, with my browser full-screened. So, working with a stencil kit, on grid paper, will help ideas flow more easily.

Beautiful metal stencil for hand-drawn awesomesauce
The second issue is the need to be online. One of my favorite places to draw inspiration is the outdoors, nature. Or maybe that’s just where I can breathe easy. Whatever the case, it is somewhat inappropriate to pull out a laptop. Hippyism aside, it’s also much more conference-table, dinner table friendly.

Finally, while it may be a bit hipster, I think working a wireframe on a computer isn’t limiting enough. The constraining medium of paper allows me to just work, moving from element to element, jotting quick notes in the margin, free-form random arrows from place to place. Not only can I work in a way that mirrors how I think, but also in a way that frees me from perfection. It’s impossible to be pixel perfect on wood fiber… even recycled ones.

So I’ve purchased the UI stencil kit for browsers, iPhone (to represent mobile in general), and some of their sketch books from UIStencils.com. I’ll try to revisit this post after I’ve had some time with them and see if what I’ve written here still holds true.

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