SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: Why Visio wireframes are outmoded (Was [Sigia-l] NYU IA class description link)
RE: Why Visio wireframes are outmoded (Was [Sigia-l] NYU IA class description link)
> That's why I prototype in Flash.
Yes, but we're not talking about prototypes...we're talking wireframes.
There's a big difference.
For me, many "wireframes" start out pretty conceptual...showing what
info/content/functionality should go where. These early kinds of
wireframes can be pretty "boxy" - with just labels and short
descriptions of the kinds of content that might go in that area of the
screen/page. As design details take shape, the wireframe will tend to
evolve into an *example* of a page/screen of that page type. We use
legal sized paper (in landscape layout) and use the area to the sides of
the picture of the screen to document functionality, interaction, and
any questions remaining about the screen design. The problem with using
an interactive prototype *instead of a wireframe* is that a prototype's
interaction can be used, but it may not be visible (e.g. you don't know
a mouseover is there unless you happen to mouse over that area).
Developers can print out design documents and refer to them as they
code...and see the documentation of the details. An interactive
prototype is more difficult to refer to as you code...you have to switch
from one window to another, and the interaction details are hidden in
We often use our wireframes as a starter set of page examples, and they
may be used as part of a paper prototype for early usability testing.
Once we get beyond conceptual design, we may work with a developer to
build a higher fidelity prototype of key interactions (e.g. and
interactive component)...or build a higher fidelity prototype of the
whole design. Sometimes that hi-fi prototype is done using a different
tool than the final product. For example, we might whip up a prototype
of a dynamic navigation bar in Flash for as part of a hi-fi prototype
for usability testing...knowing that if it tests well, the final product
will be done with DHTML. We've learned that Flash can be faster to
prototype these kinds of things in...and sometimes the design concept
gets changed drastically after testing. We also don't burden our
developers with creating "production quality" code for a prototype...so
we plan for prototypes to be "throw-away-able".
For my team:
- Wireframes (and site maps, concept maps, task flows, story boards,
etc.) are about design documentation.
- Prototypes are for testing...hopefully with real end-users of the
product. Sometimes we'll have paper and hi-fi prototypes, depending on
the project needs.
- Prototype testing yields changes to design documentation.
- "Final" design documentation leads to production quality code.
Sure, you can document in code and just "iterate" until you think it's
ready for production...but I've found that path to be full of it's own
risks. Code is costly to change. The more that is "codified", the more
you'll have invested in it, the less you'll want to change it.
> In fact most of my IA roles has been more about documenting my ideas
> actually ideating them in the first place.
That makes sense. After all, ideas are in *your* head...documentation is
meant to help communicate those ideas so they become shared ideas across
the whole team. Not to mention that no *one* person has all the good
ideas. The team should be helping refine your initial ideas and making
them better. If it weren't for documentation and communication, you
would (potentially) have too much control/sway over the design.
In IA, as in business, good ideas are cheap...it's the communication and
implementation that have real value.
User Experience Director, Cargill
My Blog: Croc O' Lyle - http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/
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: Mon Jul 11 2005 - 12:32:08 EDT