Here at Imulus, we strongly believe in how important the wireframing process is for all of our projects. Recently we shifted our process in the wireframing stage to lessen the confusion with our clients. We decided not to present wireframes to the client. Wireframes are an essential step in the process for the designer, but they can be a waste of time for the client. The process can end up hurting the project and its goals.

Why?
During our wireframe presentations we noticed that wireframes can cause a lot of confusion. Wireframes that expressed creative layouts were declined by the client because they would have difficulty visualizing the design once fully designed and functional. We’re humans. We have a better understanding of something that we see rather than trying to visualize something that’s shown to us in grey boxes. Because of this, clients approved wireframes that made most sense to them — the one with a very traditional layout.

Traditional wireframe layout

Traditional wireframe layout

Wireframes are more about content structure — what goes where within the layout. They lack the ability to convey brand-specific features and how contrast impacts content hierarchy.

Wireframes can hurt the project due to the following reasons…

  1. They are static — Sure, design is static too, but has a bigger impact to the client than wireframes. Clients want to see the design.
  2. They can’t express dynamic interaction — Trying to explain dynamic interaction through wireframes confuses the client even more. In some instances, we’ll prototype specific dynamic features.
  3. They can be misinterpreted – Clients can change their mind once they see the design. What they understood in the wireframe can look different to them in the design.
  4. They can waste a lot of time – Designers can be stuck in “revision land” for a while. This also affects Project Managers as time is wasted on back and forth with a client.

Our plan here at Imulus is to only do this for website design projects and so far it has been very successful. Web and mobile applications will require wireframe approvals by the client. These projects are complex in context and we want to make sure that the flow of user interaction is ironed out at the wireframing stage.

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