I may have found design much earlier in my life if I had any hand-eye coordination whatsoever. I’ve always been a creative type, but I am not someone who the medium of stylus + paper comes easy to.

When I started dabbling in the app called Sketch & Illustrator for web design, I realized I’m actually not a total idiot when it comes to aesthetic, I just have shaky hands and little patience.

Unfortunately, sketching is very much still part of the web design process and actually super important to mine personally, but fortunately, sketching was taught as part of our curriculum at the Iron Yard which meant I would finally be accountable to confront this challenge.

After trial and error, I finally figured out some things that works, and I’d like to share them with you in case you share my pain.

Technique 1: Patience & Dotted Lines

Get a gridded notebook. Just do it.

Then, pick 5 websites. Sketch the mobile version and the desktop versions. If you’re anything like me, you’ll rush through the first one, do a shitty job, be mad at yourself for it, do the next one better, get overconfident, and do the next one shitty again. You’ll learn a lot about grids, but more about yourself.

I learned that it is well within me to sketch something well if I know exactly what I’m doing. And if I’m just trying things out, it’s okay to do it shitty.

Technique 2: Let Someone Else Drive

Sweet, sweet group projects. If you’re fortunate enough to collaborate with someone who is bomb at sketching, sit down and brainstorm with them, get on the same page, and then let them draw. Offer, of course, to make up for it later in the design process.

These sketches were done by my classmate, Jenna Ramsey, for internal application for client Red Arena.

Technique 3: Whiteboard It

By final project time, I felt stressed, rushed, and discouraged by how many versions of each screen I had to do before I got a sketch that I liked. I was also running out of pages in my grid notebook and didn’t want to start on a new notebook in the middle of a project.

Your brain works in mysterious ways when under stress.

I was venting my struggles to someone, I think it was Jess (the JS instructor) and she said “why don’t you just use a whiteboard?”


This is why it’s good to vent. For the low, low price of feeling like an idiot, you can get brilliant solutions to all the problems that come from being inside your own head for way too many hours of each day.

Whiteboarding is my favorite because you can erase lines. It’s a little exhausting on your back if all you have is a wall whiteboard, but TIY happened to have desktop whiteboards which worked brilliantly. I also invested in a ruler, since there were no dots.


This post is mostly about drawing lines, but if you read between the lines (lawl) it’s also about not getting discouraged by imperfection. I’m someone who likes to be good at things, I know what I’m capable of and hate the space between what I do and what I think I can do.

But persistence and trial and error helped me find comfort in that space, and I hope it can help you too!