Welcome to Overthrow Digital's blog where we share our thoughts and ramblings on anything and everything to do with the world of digital communications.
Written by:
Fabio Lucindo

Why It’s Important to Sketch Before You Wireframe

In a brainstorming session recently, we were looking at the way we communicate with our clients and ways we can convey our messaging and designs in a more productive and streamlined manner.

The issue that can sometimes arise when communicating to clients is the assumption that they view design – and in particular wireframes – in the same way as project managers and designers do. The obvious truth is that many do not and the need to communicate our ideas in a more succinct and human manner became apparent when we were all discussing this.

The issue isn’t in the quality of the wireframes, but the human factor when showing clients the work we have done. It can be too technical and impersonal at times and we sometimes forget that the client has an emotional attachment to their project or piece of work.

It’s similar to if you purchased a brand new Ferrari but all you see is the car half way through the building process as a piece of metal frame without the sexy leather interior, beautiful red and the prancing horse on the bonnet.

The more we discussed it the more obvious it became for the need for us to go back to how we used to do it back in the day and instead of providing the clients with digital wireframes we simply create thoughtful sketches, scan them and present them to the client.

From this point the discussion is opened, you and the client will have much more freedom to discuss the project and won’t feel limited to lines and shapes, as it is just a sketch.

Another important aspect of presenting sketches to clients is the emotional aspect they portray. While in reality sketches may be a quicker process than full wireframing, they actually convey to the client a more caring approach as it allows the client to see something that has been created with the designers’ hand on paper.

The same aspects apply to web design. The first element we, as designers, need to know is what the websites function is and not if it will have a big banner at the top or not.

This early sketching stage is the perfect time to sit down with the client and discuss what the aims and goals of the website are as no one has more of an understanding of their business than the client. Is it to increase sales? Is it to increase leads? Or is the aim brand exposure? These are the questions that sketching will answer!


That doesn’t mean wireframing is dead


All of this doesn’t mean that we don’t need the wireframe process. Wireframe’s are still a crucial stage of the design process as it is where you can really transfer all the ideas from your piece of paper to a user interface canvas and start to think about how to translate your ideas into reality.

What is the best technology? How can we achieve our end goal? Is there anything that needs to be altered and changed now that we can view the project in a more visual form? These are all questions that are posed – and need to be posed – during the wireframe stage.

The lesson that should be learnt is that it doesn’t matter how advanced the software you are using to wireframe is, the good old pencil and paper is still as relevant as it was 15 years ago.

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