Interaction design for any application is becoming quite complicated with time. It was only a simple task just recently, with only Visio being used to describe statistic screen, websites, desktop programs, and even a number of mobile applications.
You would find the product manager writing a very long document showing the products as well as specifying the functions of every button. The UX designer on the other hand would take a look at the document, proceed to create a schematic wireframe for every screen, and then at the same time plan interaction between the two.
When doing this, the UX designer would create a site map, which would then go to another stage of prototyping and visual design, more so if the company was UX oriented. During that time, the wireframes were functional rather than visual, since they were primarily used to describe how a page should be built.
If you looked at the screen from the perspective of a developer, you would find a list of different functional elements which were probably quite logical. However, from a user’s perspective, this was a killer. The wireframes were incredibly difficult to read. The presentation method got in the way of being able to translate information available into a real screen, more so at the review stage.
Today, it is all different. Most of these tools are now considered not as useful. Things have changed. This has made the entire process outdated. Visual frames have begun to break down the belief that information design can be considered in isolation to information architecture. Wireframes are created as a technique, rather than what many would say, a visual conceit. They can actually be used to explain how a page will be experienced on the side of the end user. And what could be the reason for all this change?
Screens have become more dynamic and new technology has emerged.
You can now easily activate different features from a single screen. For instance, in social media sites such as Facebook, you can execute a number of tasks from one screen. It is possible to engage in a number of situations such as uploading photos, updating our profile pictures, and even commenting in just a single page.
In the past, clicking was considered king. Interaction was extremely simple.
People considered dragging as nothing more than a gesture of an operating system. You couldn’t find web applications, or even desktop programs using the dragging gesture. It was easy to describe such simple interactions using schematic screens. However, in recent times, interaction has upgraded to include gestures on touch screens. The controls also tend to react on different levels, depending on the slide or tap. It is quiet puzzling how many interactions can be carried out on one screen. Such rich interaction can be accommodated by a simple schematic screen or wireframe, except in an event that it is redundant in many occasions.
Have you come to the conclusion of how to use wireframe?
Was it difficult? Well, that’s great! You can now support wireframes on all the variations of interaction on all screens. This will decrease your working hours considerably. You will realize that a large part of everything you had previously changed several times, as per your business, gets an approval to be variable and whim. This will happen due to the fact that more and more organizations are moving to work in a swift manner.
Have the schematic screens or static wireframes disappeared?
Well, I don’t believe they have. As a matter of fact, you can now see standard size web banners being used to describe small screens that have minimal obvious interactions. You can clearly deduct that most of them have been replaced by prototype tools.
Have you ever thought of the reasons as to why you are wireframing?
Could the reason be that everyone out there is Wireframing? What are you trying to illustrate or validate when using design wireframes? All these questions lead to the same answer: Wireframing is all about prototyping. Nobody intends to spend thousands of dollars on a product, only to find out that their assumptions were not correct, which is the prime reason why you prototype.
Looking at the adoption of a declining number of specification documents as well as the growing of advanced methodologies today, it’s okay to assume that schematic screens are gradually disappearing. People who are more versed, or used to work on schematic screens for end-to-end program will now have to change to the technological advancements. If not, they will find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, where they will be required not only to be flexible in preparation and maintaining, but also be quicker. They will not do their job effectively, if they rely on statistic wireframe.
For many years, the primary role of wireframes was nothing but to specify software. Today, it’s used to explore and investigate how people interact with a site. Wireframing fits very well with the agile mindset. It actually encourages team members to work together and communicate across different disciplines. It’s easy to digest wireframe diagrams and results, to lightweight.
The ability to create a quick prototype is a must-have skill that UX experts are expected to possess today. They need to have talent to create a prototype of a feature, and not a full blown application. However, every feature has to be well aligned to the same rules of interaction, as well as graphic language. The versions don’t need to be changed quickly.
Wireframes have played a great role in the modern web development process. They have provided a simple way of validating user interface, as well as the layout. Plus they are cheaper and faster to produce, compared to final visual comp. Despite their advantages, most of the techniques and methods used to create wireframes have been rendered inefficient. They have, in fact, contradicted the values and principles that made wireframe useful in the first place.