Are wireframes Dead?!

Lately, there have lots of articles pointing towards doom of wireframes which got me thinking are they really dead, Or are they just not relevant to some processes and are being termed as dead.

The truth is  why and how we use them is evolving. Yes they don’t solve the problem of how does this things feel But, they definitely outline and define how this thing will work.

Every project has different documentation needs. Wireframe documentation can serve to answer questions at each part of the design and development process. At the very beginning of the project, you create wireframes to make sure the entire user flow is clear to the Stakeholder. This ensures that business requirements are incorporated and the entire team working on the project is on the same page.

When an architect designs a house they create something called a ‘blueprint’. In my opinion a wireframe is exactly that but for a digital product.

  • It is meant to lay the foundations of a product before that product is visually enhanced – in this case before a visually appealing user Interface is built
  • Wireframes  are extremely useful in the early stages of  a project
  • They keep Product Managers, Designers, Clients and Developers on the same page
  • They are cost effective to change, unlike ditching the wireframe and going straight into design which just uses more creative resources, time and budget.
  • They generate discussion,  and are a starting point for discussing technical challenges that may occur.
  • They are NOT meant to be coloured or visually appealing but not clunky either

Important elements of a wireframe

  • Structure and Flow — How will each piece of the user flow fit together
  • Content — What will be displayed at every step of the user flow
  • Informational hierarchy — How is this information laid out in terms of importance and ease of use
  • Functionality — How will the interface work and what purpose do each elements solve for the user?
  • Behaviour — How does it interact with the user, And how does it behave?
  • Sign off – Most importantly, they can get signed off. That means the Client agrees to go ahead with the suggested flow and it can safely go in to the next phase of design without too much back and forth

Features of a  generic wireframe:

  • Technical document with blocks, lines, and captions
  • Not a scamp. Wireframes are well documented
  • It’s not meant to be a visual design
  • Not even a logo is required
  • Features spec or Annotations help specially with the development tea.

Don’t let it be mistaken for a bad design!

Most of the times the Client is unsure about the distinction between a wireframe and a design. It is very important to point that out in the beginning by making sure you follow certain wire framing rules like the ones mentioned above.

If you want to make it look a little more realistic then it may be worth filling  in the actual copy, the copy length, ideal font, sizing, weights, and so on. As with the other variations of high-fidelity wireframes, this level of detail about the product should be understood with little or no explanation – so you can move onto the next wire- frame to keep the product design and development process going.

High-Fidelity Color is another way you can make a wireframe more realistic without  going too granular into the graphical details. This may mean filling in very specific background, button, text, or other colours to emphasise desired actions or user flows beyond what grayscale can offer. Be careful not to go crazy with the color or you risk both reducing the effectiveness of color “highlighting”, wasting a lot of time on making a mockup that your graphic designer will ultimately replace, or making it harder to communicate other details of the wireframe to stakeholders because they’re distracted by the visuals – they may even perceive the wireframe as a bad mockup instead of a slightly more detailed wireframe

To conclude

Wireframes are like any other tool – only as useful if you use them properly. They also help speed up the Visual Design and Development time as they lay the ground work for the other teams.Used properly and appropriately, wireframe documentation is an essential part of user  of project development.

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