Hands down, one of the coolest features in IWCO Direct’s Creative Services offices are our whiteboard walls. When we were redesigning some of our office space a few years ago, the Creative Services team got the opportunity to provide input into what we wanted and what would make the workspace more efficient. A few of our requests:
- Larger meeting spaces for our growing team;
- A separate printer and production room to minimize noise and provide more organization;
- Whiteboard walls.
When I say “whiteboard walls,” I mean a wall that’s a whiteboard. It’s a special type of paint that’s used to make the entire wall, top to bottom, a glossy writing surface we can utilize during meetings and throughout the day. The redesign of our space changed our one-room space into three, each of which has a whiteboard wall.
Other than the fact that they’re a lot of fun to play around with (we often get little love notes and doodles from passersby), they serve a huge purpose in allowing us to design on-the-go and collaborate on a larger scale. They also help us stay on track with projects and deliverables and give us a visual to ensure we’re all on the same page.
Our Weekly Project Board Keeps Us On-Target for Due Dates and Deliverables
One of our rooms hosts our morning staff meetings, where we go over what’s hot for the day, each person’s workload, and any other housekeeping items. That room’s whiteboard wall is mapped out into an Excel-like table (courtesy of a step ladder, washi tape, a laser level, some rulers, and two employees who thought my hand-drawn table looked “tacky”), which organizes our week according to when things are due, who they are due to, who is doing them, and any other important project notes. As priorities change and schedules are adjusted, so is the board. Team members can go in at any time and see what’s going on for the day and get a snapshot of what’s happening for the rest of the week.
Sketching Campaign Designs Allows Us to Collaborate and Improve on Design
The other two whiteboard walls are reserved for creative marketing design meetings. Once we have the team assembled and the campaign brief is read, we’ll begin drawing rough sketches of what we think will work and laying out different design elements we want to employ. Having the whole wall gives us a lot of options—using different marker colors helps us keep different ideas distinct, and the ability to quickly erase and modify makes it easy to improve upon ideas without making our reference point a jumbled mess.
Once the meeting is over, we’ll take pictures of the designs and any other notes we’ve scribbled on the wall (specific selling points we want to feature, due dates, etc.) so we can each utilize the rough sketch from the comfort of our desks, which also ensures we’re all working from the same plan.
Hand-Drawing Ignites Creative Thinking
Some fancy, elitist designers might thumb their nose at us for not using a more high-tech option, like tablets and projectors, but there’s a reason we asked for whiteboard walls. Besides the obvious benefits (it allows everyone to join in on the process, it’s quick and easy to implement ideas, and it provides a massive space for us to work in), it also allows the team to tap into different elements of our brains. There have been plenty of studies looking at the neuroscience between hand drawing and using software. Smashing Magazine, which publishes content for the design community, provided a good summary of some of those studies, including:
- Hand drawing allows us to better flesh out ideas by using a fast means of external representation;
- Physical sketches allow designers to better adjust ideas and make changes;
- Our educational and historical background has conditioned us to produce more ideas and be more creative when hand drawing;
- The break from a computer screen helps improve concentration and retention.
It might not be “smart,” but the tangible experience of old-fashioned whiteboard writing—much like tactile marketing—gives us a deeper connection to the ideas we have, more immediate feedback, and a better understanding of how our team works together to produce creative marketing ideas.
If you’re ever at our Chanhassen facilities and want to see these whiteboard walls for yourself, stop on by. We hope you’ll leave some artistic sketches of your own.
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