So, I’ve been doing a whole bunch of wireframing lately.
I have to admit that, in the last little while, I’d gotten into the habit of wireframing straight into Visio, maybe after a quick thumbnail sketch on a notepad somewhere.
The site I’m working on at the moment has quite a bit of application type functionality in it, as well as a whole bunch of content, and offers the opportunity to be a little bit creative with the interaction design.
Out of habit, I pretty much launched straight into Visio (after a couple of quick sketches), but the further I got into it, the less satisfied I was with the output.
So, just for a while, I dumped Visio, got a whole pile of paper, some pencils and a sharpener, and just played around with ideas.
Ahhh. That’s just *soooo* much better.
It’s a little bit 37 Signals/Getting Real (although, these *will* end up as Visio wireframes in a functional specification – the size and dispersal of the team on this project demands that kind of documentation), but it does seem to be a popular approach to documenting RIAs. (Jeffry Veen was saying the other day that he’s going from pencil sketch to build these days).
So, what’s so good about pencil sketching your wireframes?
For me, it allows you to work really quickly and play around with a bunch of ideas. It allows you to focus on the nub of the problem you’re trying to solve and not waste time playing with font sizes or alignment and all that fiddly annoying Visio stuff. It makes it faster and easier to ‘test’ ideas, and to document ideas, concerns, things that will need to be dealt with later.
It feels so much more creative, more ‘designy’ :) I think the output reflects that. Ultimately, assuming you have to, it makes getting stuff into Visio so much faster!
Now, for my next project, I’d love to ditch Visio all together, and just use pencil sketches and prototyping. I’m not sure we can ditch the spec… that’s another post brewing.
So, that’s my tip for the day. Feeling a little stale and uninspired? Got a tricky problem to solve? Step away from the computer and pick up a pencil.
If nothing else, it’s more fun than Visio.