Wireframes are like the blue print of a house. All of the decisions about how to build it, and how it functions are focused on before you can even begin to think about what finishes will be needed.
In design, these blueprints are just as vital to a great final product and a lasting relationship between all involved (business, designers, engineers, users). Wireframes are often thought of as a designer’s tool, but it’s important that they be thought of as a communication tool for everyone.
A wireframe says we are focusing on these decisions right now, and nothing else. Anything that’s presented in the wireframe is up for discussion because it is clearly not finished. Not much more needs to be said when you present this type of deliverable.
Hardly a discussion needs to be had about your process when you present wireframes. It’s pretty easy to see where you have come in your process so far, and what needs to be discussed before moving on. This shows you really care about their needs and users.
Allow Time for Refinements
When rushing right into visual design, much gets lost. It’s scary for a client to see visual design early on, too. Your decisions are super fresh and waiting for feedback, yet what they will see is something they feel is way more finished. This creates feelings of anxiety, as if you worked ahead without considering them, even if that is not the case. Worse, if there is a lot to discuss (confusion on interactions or something you may have missed or not had a chance to propose to them as a solution yet), they feel overwhelmed. Create confidence instead.
Many visual decisions directly affect how a user interprets interaction and expectations within an interface. For this reason, a more visual prototype should still be created and tested, but a large amount of decisions should have been thought through already. For example: An often-neglected piece of interface design is testing of color palettes. This step is where you can really hone in on the details that create that awe-inspiring feeling; delight. You will have more clarity and space to focus on this step if you use wireframes up front.
Save Time and Money
Wireframes take very little effort to put together - once you have ideas. Once you get a few ideas sketched out, pulling these together simply requires some tools with pre-built drag and drop shapes. There are even tools that allow you to show interaction intentions at this stage. You can build out multiple ideas very quickly, and iterate on feedback even faster.
If you aren’t using simple wireframes in your design process, consider how you can improve and communicate this to attract the right types of clients. If you are using wireframes already, you are creating value for your businesses and your partners.