Sketching is helpful. It's fast, cheap and really helps hone ideas. There's something beautiful and organic about getting your ideas out using "crude" tools like pen and paper. Something that digital tools can't replicate. Digital tools causes you to fixate on the tool and is counter intuitive to the processing of sketching. The goal of getting as many ideas out of your head as possible.
Digital tools make it easy to deal with color, alignment, spacing, etc which tends to make you drift towards worrying about details that don't matter at this stage of the design process. Tools like Balsamiq gets you close, but forces you into using only the UI controls available in the application. It can't fully represent the breadth of available patterns and hinders the process of coming up with new ones. Digital tools are rad, but not at the beginning.
However, sometimes you need help speeding things up - visual guidelines to help you sketch faster and more accurately from sketch to sketch. Something to help organize notes and track sketches as ideas pile up. This is where paper templates comes in handy.
- 8x11 in. paper size
- Actually device and screen size
- Project Fields. I.e. project name, date, page x of y, screen titles, notes
- Blue template lines as used in graphing and architecture drawing paper