Wireframes are important to our team. They inform our designers what type of content will exist on each template.
They assist our developers in understanding the user interaction for each feature on the site. At SiteCrafting, we often use the analogy that wireframes are like blueprints in the construction industry. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that’s not entirely accurate. In construction, the first deliverable is not a blueprint, but an elevation mockup. At SiteCrafting, our projects run in reverse. It is only after wireframes have been completed that the client begins to see the “paint on the walls”. I am now realizing that our wireframes are much more like storyboards in the film industry.
As a Solutions Architect, my job entails many aspects: business analysis, market research, requirements gathering, user interface/experience design, and site architecture development to name a few. If one were to look at the final deliverable from this process one would believe that the ultimate goal is a set of wireframes. But that is far from the truth. In fact, all the work done during this process culminates in a story.
When I present wireframes to a client, I tell them a story. It is a story of their site. It begins with the construct and walks through each chapter. All good stories are captivating, and that is what I try to do with our stories. I use wireframes for visual cues to engage the client while I am telling the story. Were I to present just the wireframes and ask for feedback, those meetings would not only be quite boring, but also very unproductive. Websites involve movement and interaction, both of which are very difficult to portray with static wireframes. But skipping this step and moving to prototypes can lead to missed requirements and shallow sites. So we wireframe. And then we tell a story to the client out of those wireframes. We create voice-overs that are meaningful to the client while creating documentation meaningful to our team. And all in a timely manner.
So ... why do we wireframe? We do it because it is the best way we know to create the structure for the story we tell. When and if a new technique comes along, we will adopt that method. Wireframes are a means to an end. For my part of the project, that end is a story. For the client, that end is a captivating, inviting, dynamic, modern website.