Sketching My Dashboards | My New Favourite Tool: Excalidraw

by Ali Agah
"The first draft of anything is [rubbish]" - Ernest Hemmingway

I don't know about you but I get attached to my dashboard ideas. I'm embarrassed of how much time I've wasted drafting dashboards that only looked good in my head or worse redrafting ok dashboards into a monstrosities. That costs time, energy and, for clients, money.

That's why sketching can be a lifesaver. But if, like me, you sketched dashboards on paper you may question the benefits. Not only do I feel guilty for the tree sacrificing but each iteration is still a huge commitment. One edit and I have to re-draw the whole thing again!

I like reiterating too much to sketch on paper.

So I tried other tools in vain: PowerPoint was complicated and I couldn't stop getting attached to my slides. Paint brought back childhood memories but drawing with a mouse is a nightmare. I even considered drawing tablets but, regrettably, I'm not made of money.


On Coach Andy's recommendation, I had a look at Excalidraw and it was love at first use. It's so elegantly simple, intuitive and flexible. Your tools are on a bar on top and editing tools on the left. It's also easy to move things around, reiterate entire sections or copy and paste. If you know PowerPoint, you know Excalidraw.

My favourite feature is the library which lets you input other people's 'drawings'; including charts.

Ok. That's only my joint favourite feature. The other one is the default 'hand-drawn' style which reminds me: "It's only a sketch. Don't get attached!".

You can also collaborate with others Google Docs style but I haven't had a chance to try that yet. I might pester DS23 to try it with me.

As mentioned, Excalidraw is delightfully intuitive and simple but if you really want a quick guide to get started, I recommend this video.