Visual Skills for the "I Can't Draw" Crowd


MJ Broadbent/Liquidnet


Interaction Design is a relatively young field comprised of practitioners from diverse backgrounds. For example, during the Interaction’09 conference, then-IxDA Board President Josh Seiden polled assembled attendees, “Who has had a (formal) design education?” Only about half the room raised their hands. From brainstorming and whiteboard sketching to rapid prototyping and concept presentations, today’s interaction designer needs nimble visualization skills to communicate quickly and clearly — without a lot of text or verbal explanation. Some of us have gained proficiency on the job; others seek opportunities for relevant guided practice. This workshop offers a practical crash course in effective visual communication for IxD professionals with little to no experience with drawing by hand. Anyone interested in expanding his or her skills is welcome; however, our primary focus will be on getting past “I can’t draw.” Synthesizing proven approaches from leading visual thinkers, MJ will coach you through a series of revelatory exercises that move beyond self-judgment into effective visualization techniques. You will become comfortable with both table-top (horizontal) drawing and whiteboard (vertical) drawing, taking away a transformed attitude about your abilities. Yes, there will be game-playing in service of learning!


MJ (Mary Jane) Broadbent has been designing elegant solutions to complex information problems for over 20 years. With a traditional graphic design education, MJ began interaction design work in 1996 with Silicon Alley pioneer Tom Nicholson. Throughout her career, she has improved communications for clients such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bookspan (now DirectGroup Bertelsmann), Empire BlueCrossBlueShield, H&R Block, The McGraw-Hill Companies (including Standard & Poor’s), Pfizer, Sony Electronics, The United Nations, and Xerox. In her current role as a lead experience designer at Liquidnet, the global institutional equity marketplace, MJ stays busy envisioning streamlined enterprise service systems. She is an active member of numerous design-related organizations and communities; however, IxDA tops the list. MJ co-authored and taught the seminal online course “Information Design” at, and has guest-lectured on information architecture at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education, New York University’s ITP, and the School of Visual Arts. MJ has been passionate about encouraging creative expression ever since reading “The Little Engine That Could” at age 6.