Wire-framing is God's gift to requirements gathering. Its true. I'm a recent convert to formally including a wireframe in the design/requirments process. Why this sudden conversion? The discovery of a tool that makes it almost child's play to explore your options: balsamiq. Here is my top-5 list of why wireframing, and balsamiq in particular, is awesome:
- with a wireframe tool, I can whip up a "sketch" of the screen(s) for a particular user story in less than an hour
- the process of wireframing is the first test of the requirements and highlights very quickly when the requirements aren't detailed enough. I know within an hour if I have to go back to the client and I can show them what's missing and why
- I tend to be a form over function kind of guy, so this forces me into a make sure I have the functions (both data capture, and UX) in there, without worrying about how the CSS should work, or browser compatibility, or if that blue is too blue
- you can begin to establish some conventions early: where do buttons go, where do menus go, what's a grid vs whats a list. This is important so that when developers begin to code they already have a common understanding of how things will plug together. Don't get me wrong, you still need designers and so forth, but at a minimum you don't have apples and oranges
- probably the singularly most awesome thing is that it visually tells the story of what you are trying to accomplish. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I say a picture is priceless if it brings consensus. Oh, and did I mention that balsamiq stores its wireframes as XML so they're portable and easily modifyable? Thought not.
I've been working on the wireframes for our next SaaS offering, and I thought I would share. But then I thought, if a picture is awesome, a movie would be even better. So here's my first go at a user story come film:
I'd love to know what you think of the film, the concept (of making a film of mockups) and of the product itself. I'll be going through it in more detail as we work through the kinks.