Wireframes: A Good Communication Tool, a Poor Design Tool
Wireframes are not a design tool
Where does design happen? Before a wireframe can be created, a group of people needs to get together and talk things out. Later on, a wireframe might be created, usually by a single person working in isolation, sometimes long after the initial conversation has occurred. The sketches have been sketched, the ideas have been brainstormed.
A wireframe is there to formalize and make concrete what’s been decided as a group. The design work was done verbally, in notepads, and on whiteboards. The wireframe is the document that captures that design work.
A wireframe is good for gathering and consolidating the design thinking — the conversations and sketches — that has already occurred. Wireframes are good at opening up avenues of communication and spurring useful feedback. They can help you obtain someone’s approval, or move a project on to its next phase. Emails, contracts, and specifications also provide this kind of value. I like to call it “paperwork.”