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Wireframes or Prototypes; Worth the Investment?

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Design, Validation

Imagine explaining all of Facebook’s features to someone who has never used it. How would they remember how it all worked? Even if they remembered, what if their interpretation was different than what you said? The functionality of web and mobile applications, much simpler than Facebook, gets lost in translation often. There are plenty of processes and tools that software teams use to communicate how an app will work. Two of the most popular are wireframes and prototypes.

Wireframes are simple, black and white, blueprints of an application’s layout and functionality. While a prototype is a much more in-depth rendering of an application’s design and functionality. Prototyping takes much longer and is generally more expensive. For an entrepreneur who is in the ideation phase, wirefames are a great tool you can leverage. They will help you convey your idea to designers, software teams, and potential partners. Aside from communication, there are other major benefits to wireframing your software ideas. See them listed below.

1. A clear visual representation

Software teams go through a design and planning process, that includes wireframing. This visual representation makes it easier for developers to build out the required page structure. Take your idea’s well defined features and visually map them on to the page. This will prevent miscommunications with a development team. Allowing you to spend more time validating and iterating over the customer discovery and market validation.

2. Major focus on user experience

Wireframes are grayscale. This is great from a user-experience planning perspective. No time is spent designing individual components or worrying about animations. The core focus is the layout of the page, and more importantly, how a user will interact with the items on the pages. If you map out exactly how you want a user to interact with your app or website, you can build designs to promote those paths.

3. Be proactive, not reactive

If you’re working on a development project with a software agency like WynHouse, they will almost always want to start with wireframes. When working with any sort of software team, it is crucial to start with a low-fidelity functionality and design planning step. Building out the wireframes tends to expose potential issues that could show up during development. Innovating around these issues during planning will correlate to major savings during development.

4. Help define your MVP

You can use the wireframe design process to help define your minimum viable product. Some features might be very complicated while not providing much value to the user. If you or the software team are struggling to wireframe a low priority feature, then its potentially too complicated for an MVP (We talk more about defining your MVP here: Who, or What, is the MVP?).

5. Think of it like a first date

At this stage of planning, it is still a relatively affordable commitment financially compared to development. This gives you a great opportunity to work with an agency or freelancer on the wireframes. You will be able build the relationship with a designer and account manager before deciding on moving to the next steps.

If you have an app idea or a business venture around a tech product, taking your first steps to get the wireframes completed is a great idea. They are an invaluable tool that help pave the way for the future of your product.

Learn more about wireframes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XVO1cJU250

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