Atish Nazir

wireframing: the past, the now and the future

Miscommunication is sadly a frequent (and expensive) occurrence within our industry. People are always pushed for time trying to express difficult, abstract concepts using words with media open to ambiguity and misinterpretation such as email, teleconferences and (oh sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster) requirement spreadsheets. Good communication is hard.

the now

At MetaBroadcast we like to do things a little differently. Our engagements (and many internal features) start with a question “Do you have wireframes of what you’d like to build?”. Wireframes are a great tool for collaboration with a number of people. In our experience people react quickly and articulately to whether a wireframe represents what they were envisaging. They also offer a means to frame further conversations about missing behaviour (the “How questions”) and facilitate “Popping the Why Stack”.

We work with our customers to annotate their wireframes with the various MetaBroadcast API calls. This really helps us understand the end to end story. It also offers an opportunity to drill into any API impedances and make our products better.

the future

Drawing on ideas from Behaviour Driven Development we’re developing a tool that uses API annotated wireframes as the basis for automated test specifications. It is still early days, we are looking at ways to express wireframes and annotations in a way to be machine readable but not to impede the conversation process. The aspiration is that this will form a natural part of our engagement flow; as soon as we have annotated wireframes we can start customer specific automated testing.

As George Bernard Shaw once wrote: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This mirrors our experience in some projects that we’ve taken on where we didn’t have wireframes upfront. It is this experience that makes us strive to find ways to work with customers more effectively. Check back to soon to read how this tool evolves.

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