The importance of good wireframing and specification documents

Almost everyone working in website and software design knows a horror story where the end product was not what the customer thought they were getting.


05 Feb 2014
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Jon Eaton

Almost everyone working in website and software design knows a horror story where the end product was not what the customer thought they were getting.

The planning and design stage of projects is often the most problematic stage. Customers find it hard to understand agency speak and agencies make assumptions on what customers know. The result is that there are two different interpretations of the same set of words.

To stop this happening in our projects we have adapted our process in the last 18 months. We’ve moved away from text-heavy documents to a more visual approach.

Start with Personas

All websites and software are designed to prompt positive interaction with customers, members or stakeholders. It is surprising therefore that so many website planning sessions devote such a small amount of time to understanding the customer. The below image shows the agenda for a recent project- as you can see we talked about their customers for over 4 hours.


More detailed wireframing

Many of our new-build projects include a series of wireframes linked together to create an online walkthrough. The result was that our clients can physically see the user experience we are trying to create, and we’ve found that our customers are providing us with more (and better) feedback. The net result is that our clients are making positive additions to the designs and user journeys rather than being perplexed about what is being suggested to them.


Plain English and Logical Ordering

Many agencies forget that reading a specification document for a web project is not something that their customers do every day. To help our customers to understand what we are saying we keep the language simple. We’re also conscious of the need to not throw lots of different trains of thought at the reader – our documentation is logically laid out so it can be consumed more easily.


Demonstrate all the design elements early

The visual design is what clients (and more importantly their customers) engage with. To this end it doesn’t make sense to be stingy. Alongside our standard flat page designs we create visual stylesheets which show how all elements in the website will look. The net result is that our clients have a really good idea of what the finished product will be before we go into the build phase.


Detailed Project Plans

Understanding the impact of an external project is important for any business. To this end a detailed project plan that states exactly who does what and when is really useful.


Summing Up

Good project planning and solution design is all about making it easy for everyone to understand what is going to be built and when. All documentation and design should help all stakeholders to do this quickly and easily.

If you need help planning your next project give us a call on 0114 279 7779.

Listed in:  Support UX Design