E-commerce Link: Design by Wire
Most Web projects include the task of wireframing site interactions to visually convey page-level design thinking. It's the wireframe that details the minutiae of how a site will work—detail that's required to create a useful, usable and engaging site. It's ironic that this core deliverable, the foundation for all subsequent design work, is so often misunderstood.
More than once, I've presented researched and thoughtful interaction designs only to receive feedback that the logo needs to be bigger and the "Terms and Conditions" link should read "Policies and Notices."
While these are easy adjustments to make, this type of feedback does not bode well for later stages of the site design process. Wireframes met with agreement and nodding without question or discussion are not being critically considered by clients. Issues will almost certainly surface later when designs become more tangible. At that point, it's difficult to make substantive changes without schedule shifts and rework.
Admittedly, wireframes can be difficult to read and can have limitations. Clients (whether internal stakeholders or external client teams) cannot see beyond the boxes and arrows to understand a site design's functional intent. It's hard to interpret from static drawings how dynamic interactions will work or feel. Because wireframes generally represent page templates, as opposed to unique pages, clients must envision each scenario where a template will be used, and how the content for that scenario will populate content zones. Still, user experience professionals present wires, request feedback and are surprised to get little of value back from client partners. Perhaps it's time to improve the process.
Here are six tips to make documentation more clear to client teams, enabling them to provide meaningful and actionable feedback on your work.
1. Don't skip from the title page straight to the wireframes. It's tempting to get right to business and start a wireframe review by jumping into the very first wire. Stop. Remember, your clients are experts in their own fields, not the field of interaction design. During initial reviews, it's as important to introduce them to the concept and purpose of wireframing as it is to discuss the specifics of their project.