23 April 2019   8353   8 min

Is digitalization affecting the use of analogue writing surfaces?

Let’s find out!

We spend a large part of our time at work and school typing, swiping, clicking and ticking. Actual writing is getting less and less. Megatrends like digitalization bring major changes where writing traditionally has been a necessary and omnipresent tool. The use of digital resources such as interactive screens is increasing and a screen is nowadays indispensable in the office or a classroom. The question is, will analogue writing surfaces disappear with the advent of these digital resources? And how do we combine the use of digital and analogue surfaces? To investigate this, we took a deep dive into the Dutch and German business and educational environment. In this article, we share the key insights of this research.

Are you a visual thinker? Discover the same surprising results in the animation video below.


1. Writing is a social activity: Visualization as support of creative processes and result of Agile working methods

One of the conclusions of our research is that using large writing surfaces, in both corporate and educational environments, is considered a social activity. Think for example about creative sessions for developing ideas and strategies. In these sessions, writing surfaces are indispensable. Due to its ease of use, a whiteboard is for example often utilized when a meeting or lesson requires some kind of improvisation. One of the interviewees said: ‘”By writing, you give a ‘live’ presentation which is in some cases even stronger than a PowerPoint or other digital presentation.” The writing surfaces are mostly used for writing and visualizing thoughts, as focal point during a lesson or for monitoring the project planning. Visualization is also a key element in Agile working methods in the corporate segment where visual communication products, such as a variety of pens, magnetic symbols, (self-adhesive) notes and large writing surfaces are used intensely.


”By writing you give a ‘live’ presentation which is in some cases even stronger
than a PowerPoint or other digital presentation.”



2. Size and design matter: The width of the surface is more important than its height.

The second conclusion is that respondents prefer large writing surfaces. Yet, size needs to be seen in a differentiated way. The width of the writing surface is considered more important than the height. There is a wish for no limitation and interruptions whilst writing, so we can keep writing by moving in front of the writing surface. Corporate end users and teachers also like to have an overview over the whole creative process over time and in retrospective: notes and drawings have to remain visible on the board, showing the whole process of what has been discussed and developed during a meeting or lesson. In addition to a preference for wide surfaces, users also prefer empty or blank surfaces without pre-prints, especially when it comes to creative processes they like to start with a blank canvas. While functionality is the most important aspect, corporate end users also appreciate a nice design, mobility and multi-functionality.

3. Analogue writing surface are used at a high intensity: Analogue writing surfaces experience a renaissance

Despite the megatrend of digitalization, analogue writing surfaces are still very actively used. Interactive digital surfaces are mainly used for presentations, digital teaching materials or playing interactive games. While analogue writing surfaces are preferred for actual writing and drawing activities during a session, presentation or lesson. According to all interviewees, writing surfaces will still remain essential in the future meeting room and classroom. They share the same claim: “Writing is here to stay!”. In fact, drawing the message using analogue means instead of showing a digital presentation has recently become a major trend and is leading to a renaissance of analogue writing surfaces and accessories, especially among millennials.

Looking ahead into the future of classrooms and meeting rooms, respondents expect that analogue and digital will co-exist, which is likely to even involve the presence of more writing surfaces: large and small, analogue and digital writing products and digital presentation solutions. It is expected that both analogue and digital presentation products will remain essential in a more collaborative and flexible future office- and classroom design.


”Analogue and digital writing can and will coexist.”




Curious about the conclusion of this research? Download the whole research here!

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