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Will we still use wireframes?

Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Servage

Create Wireframes

It is true that we have high-tech software to help in our web as well as mobile development process. Therefore, we can seat with a client and directly prepare decent low or high fidelity prototypes for small to medium size projects with all possible interactions and animations. These high-profile tools explicitly save our time spent on getting ideas, preparing some paper sketch and converting them into the wireframes before jumping into the prototypes.

Many of my colleagues do such practices and earn good amount of money and good wills of their patrons, but they are producing mediocre results. We have many creative and seasoned developers who still arrange first meeting with clients to draw rough sketches using paper and pencils. They stick with age-old software development process religiously and gets credits for their superb work at the end.

Why We Need Sketches and Wireframes

When we are drawing sketches, we simply put general ideas regarding to the layouts of the software or website. We don’t put much details of each UIs and never try to discuss on the user experiences upfront. Our primitive sketches, just initiate a discussion on the project, and inputs begin to flow in, from all stakeholders. We know our edges so creating brainstorming sessions is only possible with the help of sketches and wireframes. At this juncture, I would like to clarify that sketches are not wireframes because wireframes have more refinements and details than the sketches.

If you want to push your boundaries and you are ready to absorb creative ideas, iterative wireframe process is the best method. You will have enough overviews of your targeted audience and their user experiences before jumping on high fidelity mockups. Therefore, wireframe preparation process is infinite and you need to stop at some point and begin prototypes.

Wireframes, bring collaborative environment among the various teams including designers, programmers, and testers. UX professionals have best role to play during wireframe stage because at this step they can make their maximum inputs and correct the things beforehand. In short, wireframes bound entire team with a broad and big picture of the final product and show ways to develop that.

We Need Contemporary Wireframe Process

Since we are living in mobile era, responsive designing is in-thing in every project. However, designing responsive layout in wireframe is somewhat daunting task. As we have to put everything in columns and decide how to stake them on each other. If we are going to make prototypes directly, we may miss critical steps of responsive designing. Therefore, wireframe preparation is mandatory for all contemporary responsive designing projects. In fact, wireframes initiate responsive thinking in the team by offering adequate revisions.

Fortunately, we have modern wireframing tools such as Balsamiq, Omnigraffle, Axure, etc. to begin with low fidelity to high fidelity wireframes gradually and in iterative manners. We have much advance HTML, CSS, and JavaScript based wireframing tools to meet our clickable, interactive, and animated wireframes preparations. If you can’t afford such advance tools, you can go with Adobe Fireworks or Illustrator with some basic skills.

Conclusively

I can say that missing wireframe stage is nothing, but denying creative inputs, and remain stagnant in ever-changing canvas of web and mobile software development or designing is.

 

References & More Reading
Identifying Edges and the Art of the Wireframe
The Importance of Wireframing for a Responsive Website
Why It’s Important to Sketch Before You Wireframe

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