Ok, so I’m not going to take this in the direction you might be expecting. I’m actually still a huge fan of using plain old pen and, well, whatever I can find to draw on. For as long as I can remember I have always been a big fan of doodles; on napkins, class notes, bathroom stalls, post-its™, and the classic sheet of paper.

The web is changing at such a rapid pace and with that there are new applications and tools being introduced to web designers to expedite the creative process for wire-framing and conceptualizing. Some of these programs include: Webflow, Gliffy, MockFlow, Wireframe.cc, and various iPad sketching apps. After using some of these alternatives I’ve found that they are, for the most part, really great tools. They do serve a purpose in the creative process but are they effective in allowing designers to externalize ideas in their head and put them to use in their designs? For some people, the answer is yes.

From personal experience, hand-sketching saves the day because I can rapidly churn out ideas and work out problems before I get to the computer. I’ve found that it also helps my ability to restructure ideas and transform one idea into another with ease. I can then eliminate ideas that may simply be inappropriate for the site I’m working on; but I can potentially come back to them at a later date and re-purpose them for something else.

Once I get onto the computer I’m constantly surrounded with other websites, ads, Twitter, Facebook, etc. When I’m sketching, I can remove myself from all of that and materialize the ideas in my head and take my designs to the next level. I can think more clearly, make progress, and be a better designer.