Why You Should Print Your Digital Work


by Josh Kissel

You’ve just spent a design sprint week, weeks, or even months innovating, concepting, and validating your digital product. You’ve gone through numerous rounds of sketching, multitudes of wireframes, and your design team has so many files they’ve invented a new Dewey Decimal System. Now, you’ve probably been showing off all of this great work by sending emails, mocking up screenshots, and hopefully using prototypes like Marvel or Invision to make your product feel just that much more real. It really is a great idea and you’re proud of it so you should be showing it off!

Maybe one of the best ways to show it off is to print it! Yup, I just recommended you print out a digital product. A product that has never been, nor will ever be, intended for printed use. I’m also not saying that you print out every page of your app or website. No one wants to see that hidden settings page - the environment will thank you.

Here at Differential, we help our partners showcase their work by printing out a “roadmap.” The roadmap shows the whole product vision at a macro level. This overhead view is meant to highlight key experiences at a 1:1 scale, meaning that the screens are their true size.

There are 5 major reasons why large prints add immense value.

  1. It’s tangible
    You can literally touch it. I realize this might seem trivial at first, but humans are tactile and curious creatures. There’s something to be said for being able to interact with a physical thing, rather than a screen. Also, you can get up close and squint at the detail or kick back in a chair across the room and take in the full picture - try doing that on your iPhone.

  2. It’s visible (a.k.a. not a file) You can hold it up and pin it up. There’s no hiding it or losing it. It’s not tucked away in a folder, behind a forgotten login, or behind an app icon. It also serves as a visible reminder to keep your project and all your good work top of mind.

  3. It’s a commitment You committed to your work. You hit save, pressed print, and are now showing it off. I’m a firm believer that design is never done, but it’s important to know when to stop, commit, and showcase your solution.

  4. It’s big This print should be big!! Big enough to catch the eye, and big enough so that if you put your phone next to the design, they’re the same size. Big stands out. It takes over a wall. It’s impressive. You can’t miss it, and it makes other curious.

  5. It’s communal Because it’s big (see no. 4) people can gather around and talk about it far easier than huddling around a screen. People can examine your work with no barrier - no distractions of notifications or glare. It keeps your project top of mind for those not directly associated with the project, and the more interested and invested people are, the greater chance of success your project has

So much work great goes on behind the scenes of a project. Be proud of that work and let it see the light of day! Here at Di, our roadmaps allow us to show off our work and the work of our partners in a big way. When I say big, I mean that, the last roadmap created was over 6’ long. So whatever format works best for you, make it big and hit print.

If you want help showing off your work with your own roadmap, feel free to reach out to Di. And if any designer wants a few more details on file size, prep, and process on creating a document like this, feel free to reach out to me personally at josh@differential.com

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