Reasons why every design team should have a whiteboard

Whiteboards offer many advantages, especially for startups wanting to improve team communication while producing rapid design prototypes

Paul Wallas
5 min readMay 11, 2018


For the past 18-months, I’ve worked as a user experience and user interface designer at RightIndem. We’re a startup working within the InsurTech space, offering creative and innovative ways to digitally solve analogue solutions. One of the soft perks within our company is the number of whiteboards available for use within the office. During my time at RightIndem I’ve often relocated to new seating positions and with each relocation, my need and argument for a nearby whiteboard has grown larger and louder. I now find myself positioned directly in front of a 3m x 1.5m white board and I couldn't be happier!

Over the past few months, I’ve began to notice the incredible advantages whiteboards offer teams and individuals.

They’re inclusive

Whiteboards are inclusive. They proudly hang on walls, sharing their content with the office. Everyone can see them, there’s no hiding place but more importantly they encourage conversation. People are naturally intrigued by what they see on whiteboards, particularly during those moments when one individual is frantically writing their ideas on the board.

A typical example of one of the many whiteboards within the RightIndem office.

Inclusivity is extremely positive for all office environments. It opens channels for communication and collaboration across all teams which in turn creates a togetherness amongst team members and strengthens office relations. Having office whiteboards is a great way to start building these internal relations as it enables all other departments to contribute and offer opinion into the early and critical stages of the product development cycle.

They provide vast real-estate

The smallest whiteboard is likely to be larger than your biggest monitor and whiteboards have no visual distraction. Whiteboards provide edge-to-edge, 100% real-estate. This real-estate enables you to freely conceive new ideas without the physical interaction of ‘zoom-out’ or ‘panning’ that’s required within the digital environment. If you want to take a step back and view the overall board, simply do so. They don’t come with window or art board boundaries typically associated with design software tools.

Another advantage of the vast real-estate that whiteboards provide is the ability to view an entire end-to-end journey with relative little effort. Working on whiteboards that are greater than 2m x 1m in size provides, what feels to be, an endless canvas. This vast space enables quick pace, rapid idea generation that software tools cannot compete with due to the physical effort required to map thoughts to screen. They easily allow a birds eye view of your entire user journey.

They focus on low-fidelity

Whiteboards win no prizes at an art contest and nor should they. They are designed to be operated by a thick whiteboard marker. As a by-product they introduce low-fidelity practises into teams. If whiteboards exist in the office, they will be used and by nature, organically shift focus from producing high-fidelity dribbble award winning shots to concept generation, user journey blueprints.

Whiteboard challenges

Although whiteboards are an incredibly useful canvas, they do bring a couple of reservations that it is worth raising.

They may expose vulnerability

There is a confidence hurdle of standing in front of a whiteboard, doodling like a mad-professor. There is a vulnerability, an openness and exposure to the work that you produce while at the board and for some, it may be difficult to approach them and start drawing.

How to overcome this: My advice here is to remind yourself that whiteboard work is purely conceptual and experimental and no judgement is made on whiteboard visuals. Whiteboard sketches naturally attract other team members, whether that be BA’s, developers or testers and their inclusion provides gratitude for the effort you spend at the board. Whiteboards are not the location where ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ exists, they’re perfect for externalising internal thoughts.

Once the confidence hurdle is overcome, writing on a whiteboard becomes as natural as sketching ideas down in your favourite notebook.

Myself writing on a whiteboard

They may expose new product features

Another challenge is the initial worry of new product features that may arise as a result of conversations at the whiteboard. Often, some teams such as development teams and test teams may not have full awareness of a product roadmap. If new features are publicised on a board, it may introduce anxiety for these teams as they may worry how the work currently in production may be effected by future work exposed on the board.

How to overcome this: Be open, honest and communicate the contents of the whiteboard. If all team members are fully aware of what is on the board and more importantly, why, the nervousness and anxiety will subside as teams become confident and clear of the impact this may have. Another positive of early whiteboard conversations is that user stories and tasks become well defined and thoroughly thought through, producing a greater understanding of future features. Quite often time and effort initially spent at a whiteboard prevents issues from developing further in the design and development cycle.

You may not have the physical space required

Space is the final hurdle that may prevent the adoption of whiteboards, especially the size of boards that RightIndem are fortunate to provide.

How to overcome this: There are many suitable alternatives that offer similar benefits. Portable A3 or A4 whiteboards are available at a much cheaper cost than wall mounted boards. These offer the advantage of portability and are ideal for initial feature meetings.

Flip charts or easel style boards are also available to stand in a corner of a small office. These occupy less room and offer multiple sheets per board. They also can be portable, however they’re not always the most easiest to carry around.

There are also many variations of white paper that uses static electricity to adhere to the wall if physical mounting is not allowed. These are excellent as the standard roll offers upwards of 100 sheets at a size of A1. Again, compared to large wall mounted boards they’re cheaper and offer both portability and reuse advantages.


For me, the advantages of whiteboards far outweigh the negatives and they offer benefits for those who are not just designers. I appreciate that not all offices have the budget or the physical space to hang boards larger than those measuring 1m x 1m, however as mentioned above, there are many suitable alternatives.

If larger whiteboards are an option, my recommendation would be a magnetic, 3m whiteboard with a grid layout. These are the perfect purchase for user interaction and experience designers and my last advice would be to go crazy! You will certainly encourage other team members to join you at the board.



Paul Wallas

UI & UX Designer. Passionate about design, health & fitness and wellbeing.