Why is every conversation about wireframes I’ve encountered lately so tense? For instance, at a recent UX Book Club meeting whose topic was a discussion of some articles on wireframes, the conversation moved quickly from the actual articles to the question of what a wireframe even was. What the discussion came down to was this: no one knows the answer, and trying to find it feels like a wild-goose chase—or like wandering off on our own down a yellow brick road to find the all-knowing and powerful Oz to figure the answer out for us.
The Wizard of Oz asks questions like: What is courage or heart or a brain?Who should define them for us? As I see it, UX design suffers from similar definitional issues. We don’t all mean the same thing when we say sketch or wireframe or prototype. So how can we all get on the same page? There are differences between a sketch, a wireframe, and a prototype, but how can we understand the distinctions and the best use of each? And what is their value as communication vehicles? Let’s discuss what separates a sketch from a wireframes from a prototype. Read More
When it comes to modern theater, stage directions—the descriptive text that appears within brackets in a script—are an important piece of the puzzle. They speak for the playwright when he is not there. They provide details about how the playwright has imagined the environment and atmosphere. They describe critical physical aspects of the characters and settings. Stage directions can also be critical in dictating the intended tempo and rhythm of the piece. Whether they establish a production’s overall tone or elucidate particular actions of characters, stage directions help tell the complete story that is in the playwright’s mind. Stage directions accomplish all of this, using a simple convention that structurally separates them from the actual story.
Tennessee Williams, the playwright of A Streetcar Named Desire, strives to give a play “the spirit of life” through his stage directions. Read the following snippet from the opening of Scene 1, and you’ll find it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t achieve that goal. Read More
I’m sitting in a conference room with a coworker and two clients. It’s chaotic, hot, and a challenge just to walk around without tripping on the mess surrounding us. We are in the midst of designing and are buried in paper and sharpies and flipcharts. The walls around us are covered with consolidated data from requirements gathering and flipchart pages we’ve filled with our thought processes. Every few minutes, we need to retape some piece of paper that’s in danger of falling into a crumpled heap on the floor. Then, suddenly, I’m gripped with the feeling of déjà vu. It seems like I’m working on the same design I’ve worked on a thousand times before—and I’m getting bogged down in the details to boot! It’s at once disheartening and terrifying. But I’m the lead on this project, so I need to drive the team forward—which presents a challenge at this particular moment.
In that moment, I realized I had to step back and take a new perspective on both my role and the goal of our design. Read More