Working as a Business Analyst since past 2 years, I have realized that wireframing is an essential component of the business analysis processes, provided it is followed in the correct manner. There are several misconceptions regarding the wireframing done by BAs around the world, including the organizations I have worked with. This article tries to highlight what wireframing means to a Business Analysts, what are the common pitfalls and how these should be accepted correctly by an organization.
What type of projects need wireframing?
Wireframing is a service which can cost monies to both the client or the company depending on how it is taken. It should be proposed intelligently and after observing the stakeholder closely and at the same time taking into consideration the ROI company would gain if it is done.
- Don’t do it for projects where the client is low on budget and asking something pretty straightforward.
- Don’t do it for projects where there is an exact replica of the item already in the market and client has shared that to you as a reference.
- Do it when client wants something which is a complex application or a website where it is difficult to get a single reference.
- Do it when you understand that stakeholder would be more clear when he sees something in visual.
When to start Wireframing in a Project?
As mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, A BAs core job is to manage requirements. So, the initial steps should always be documenting the requirements. Once those are documented well, wireframing should come next. If introduced earlier, it can be extremely time consuming and might also confuse your customer and make him start thinking only along those lines. To get a clear idea about your customer’s requirement, always first document the requirements.
Wireframing by a Business Analyst vs Wireframing by a UX Professional or Designer.
Wireframing could be done by a number of people depending on their roles and requirement in the project. But it is made and perceived differently by who actually did that. This Guide to Wireframing from UXPin highlights how it is used by Product Managers, Designers, Business Analysts etc.
When done by a Business Analyst, wireframing focuses on the data points, linking between the items, attributes and sections to be covered. It does not mean that the wireframes developed by a Business Analyst need to be used as the reference for creating product mock-ups. They are created for project stakeholders to make sure that the product would consider all the requirements that are needed in the system and give him a rough idea about the project structure.
While when developed by a Designer or a UX expert, wireframes focus on visual representation of items. It shows what items will be there but at the same time it also shows where they would exactly be and a gives a low-fidelity prototype of the final product in its visual sense.
So, the bottom line is, Wireframes from a Business Analyst are more inclined towards collecting all technical requirements while those from a Designer are more inclined towards the layout and presentation.
You might want to read about some of the popular wireframing tools out there in this blog post.
What are the Benefits and Who all Enjoy those Benefits?
Benefits of wireframes have more or less already been highlighted in the paragraphs above. Just to summarize them on a business or project level, they help as follows:
- Make sure all data points are collected well.
- Prevent project scope creep.
- Help in providing better and more accurate timelines and thus cost estimates.
- Give a visual understanding to the customer about your organization’s understanding of the product to be developed.
- Helps all the team members to work in a fast and clear manner with the system structure in place and items listed down.
All these benefits thus help not only the project team and the customers but many more people:
- Designers- Has more clarity on what items to put and what controls can be used where.
- Developers- Gain clarity on the data items to understand system flow and design database.
- Customer- Gives a brief idea in visual manner about how the final product would look and behave like.
- Investors- Helps gain interest in products and make a wise decision before actually investing into a project.
You might also want to read about some of the popular wireframing tools out there in this blog post and this blog post from Toptal.
So next time you work on a wireframe, think about these points and understand why and for whom you want to make those. Once you understand that, you would get the true potential and appreciation out of your work and help make your project a success.
What are the differences between wireframing and traditional flowcharting?