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How rethinking wireframes changed the way we build software

 

Over time we as a team of creatives and software engineers have developed new ways of working more efficiently. Getting things done faster without compromise helps us be more profitable and saves money for our clients, ultimately providing a better return on their investment with us.

 

The biggest area of a project where time and money get flushed is the management of expectations. Without clarity and a detailed scope of every single feature within a software development project, too much room is left for un-scoped features to creep in, forcing the team to deliver works that have not been costed.

This is why the wireframe became the utmost important part of the entire project, it brings the entire team on the same page in order to deliver on the exact expectation of the client, nothing more, nothing less.

 

Wireframes are the middle ground. 

They’re not sketches, but they’re not beautiful designs either. They’re intentionally designed without colour. A wireframe is an attempt to accurate represent the layout and information architecture while intentionally avoiding high visual and content design. When a client is presented with design to early the functional discussions lead to inevitable design discussions. Jumping the gun leads to holes in the functionality that could make or break client relationships.

Wireframes are fast to create and edit and can get the project moving in the right direction real quick, keeping the client happy and satisfied that. you know what you are doing.

 

Our new design system

In the past, we worked with basic wireframes and very detailed interface design documents. These design documents take way longer to create than wireframes, which either becomes very expensive for the client or less profitable for development agencies. In the past few years we have been spending more time in the wireframe phase, detailing every dingle button and click function that a detailed interface design became obsolete. The right wireframe documentation coupled with a good design system consisting only of elements like buttons, lists, transitions and form elements provides the engineers with everything they need to build the desired interface. Freeing up some time during the design phase of a project creates more budget for the engineering phase, the benefits are obvious.

Experimental time

Every project has unavoidable experimentation. Agencies that claim they do not experiment are admitting to copy and pasting something that already exists. When you are building something revolutionary, innovative and of course “new”, then you have nothing to reference to which is why experimentation is unavoidable – my opinion.

What we do different is that we leave the experimenting for the first phase of development – when we build the static and non-functional front end of the interface being built. Often, only once you use a n interface with finger touch or mouse clicks can you really determine what works and what doesn’t. What seems like a good idea in a flat design does not mean it will work in reality. Therefor moving through the wireframe and design phase faster and taking a deeper look into the user experience at this stage of the project has yielded far better results for us and our clients. Work in the first phases of a project is always rough and you just don’t have all the answers.

Author avatar
Carl Wallace