Abandon wireframes, go with pre-alpha UI

This is a lit bit crazy, but think twice it would be totally rational. 

The tools in our hands has envolved into something so efficient that we may not need wireframes anymore. Instead, we could express our ideas with an alpha version of the UI directly. Here're two of the benefits that strike on me immediately. 

First, let's start with the goal of wireframes.

The goal of wireframes is that it serves as a medium of communication among all stake holders, designers, planners, users, and developers, etc. I think it's hard to argue on that. If so, here's the question, " why don't we use actual UI instead of plain wireframes to communicate ? " Even an pre-alpha version of the UI would have all the essential assets to communicate much better than wireframes. It has colored buttons, a style, even shadow that indicate the hirachy of the logic. 

Some people may argue that the goal of wireframes is to communicate logic rather than visual style, by doing so much things at the same time, the attention of the create could be easily distracted. 

I wouldn't disagree with this 5 years ago. By then the tools we could use to design were so limited. 90% of designers were using Adobe Photoshop then. Design tools like photoshop were so unefficient that it would take even a long-term pro some time to operate it to design a set of UI. No need to mention changing the design.

The world of design tools has envolved tremdously since then. New tools such as Sketch and Adobe XD are performaning so efficiently that it cost so less time to design a UI against traditional tools like photoshop. It costs even less to change the design. 

Next, it shortens the time of user test and make the test more accurate. 

Traditionally, it worked like this. Someone created the wireframes, and a meeting was held. People ( comapny guys ) sat in the meeting room discussing the logic with the help of the wireframes. If the logic was Okay, someone would turn the wireframes into actual UI ( more often than not, this version of UI wouldn't be the final version either) . Later, those UI were assembled into a clickable prototype then shown to the users to do user test.

Imagine if we could provide the user the UI instead of the wireframes faster, how much precious time we could save! With the help of even a early version of the UI, we could communicate our ideas far better than just wireframes. Let's be frank, unless the idea is highly design-driven, few users actually care about the UI during user test. Neither do us, since we are testing the flow of the design rather the aesthetics.

Here's a quick conclusion. I think it well worth a try to ditch wireframes and embrace the UI directly in the next project. Besides, all I said just run in line with the idea of rapid prototyping to reduce system redundancy, which is also becoming more and more popular among startup teams.


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