Wireframe or Straight build?

Wireframe software MockFlow

Does this explain your idea fully? mockup from MockFlow

The massive choice of online software for fast, easy website mockups have provided web designers and UX consultants great options and alternatives, but are these already becoming an outdated concept? Indeed this Handcrafted article and  its pastry box inspiration suggest a quick sketch and straight to build are a more efficient strategy for client communication and fast project control. This has coincided with designers also asking if Photoshop is outdated for giving reliable resolution mockups and proving less useful in the web design process, so just how would the client rather develop their visions?

Wireframes are too grey

The stunning selection of wireframe tools out there, such as MockFlow and Moqups, allow a fairly non-tech client to draw the web page as they see fit. With quick drag and filler content  this can easily suit somebody looking to demonstrate their ideas in a ‘something like that’ manner, which traditionally serves a great starting point for a designer to develop further.

A few grey boxes – This would be a little dull as a standard wireframe

In many circumstances this is great – knowing the basic framework allows creative wiggle room while keeping to the core essentials as dictated by a client visually. The potential issues from this though are client’s ambiguity and increased ability of the modern web. There’s an argument that the client shouldn’t have much say in the principle layout, as they may have a less intuitive knowledge of common web conventions and could stubbornly stick with a confusing principle idea. There’s also a common issue of the audience not sharing the designer’s vision for a website in cold grey boxes and lines. A wireframe may show where an image is placed, but can it demonstrate the impact of an animated bouncing logo, the subtly balanced colour scheme and tiered heading styles? Key ideas might be great, but alot of the time it might be safest to jump straight to a glamour visual or even quick browser rendering. A quickly coded screen could crudely show a fancy transition effect, fixed menu or image gallery to a more appreciative response than a beautifully designed still shot.

What’s the aim here?

Of course there are some key distinctions to make here, the type of client and type of website. At SSA the primary work in business data software means a B2B project with essential output goals. A user whose aim is to upload information, generate reports, view charts online or export data may be solely focused on achieving those aims, regardless of aesthetic. Indeed most design work fits firmly in the realm of UI and using design principles to facilitate the users’ interaction goals.

Getting the basic idea across - via balsamiq.com

Getting the basic idea across? – via balsamiq.com

The variants of project suggest it is down to the design lead to assess the best practice for generating a design conversation. Will this client respond better to discussing the overall project aims with a sketchy wireframe in place, or are they a detailed visual thinker that needs some clear visual indication to enhance understanding of a project’s potential? Either way it cant be said that one particular software, practice or strategy will unanimously suit every creative team and their types of commission.

Where next for the mockup?

Along the long road to a project completion comes many hurdles. Later requirements could undermine an initial design idea, features can be adapted, removed or greatly developed, and SSA’s client partnership practice encourages a long term strategy for any company cloud software. These factors make it equally important that, while a good strategy for initializing design is important, a strong consideration for the ultimate consistency and adaptability remains at the forefront. Tools will likely become faster and more efficient for rapidly generating project visuals and building components, but the key for effective client partnerships will still lie in the trust and experience of the team to meet the specified demands and deliver.

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