As a web designer and developer, I’m often asked what are the best tools for the job and I’m always trying out the latest innovations. I try to be open minded and give everything a chance. Recently myself and WATB’s senior designer Jonny have tried to improve our wire framing process by experimenting with different wire framing tools to see which one was the best.
Despite good attempts though (most notably with the web design sketch tool wireframe.cc) we ended up with a big roll of paper, pencils and pens.
Web Design Paper Advantages
Pens and paper offer too many compelling advantages over online tools.
- Fast – it’s far quicker transforming an idea from your head onto paper than through a mouse and a piece of software.
- Flexible – Many wire framing tools use pre-defined boxes and UI components. But with a pen, we can draw anything we like, allowing greater freedom of expression.
- Collaborative – It’s much more of a team effort to sit around a big table sharing ideas and sketching out your thoughts.
- Fun – There’s less frustration, we already know how to use a pen so there’s no learning curve or having to get around a tools short comings. It just works, so it’s more enjoyable as a result.
“But I can’t draw!”
I hear you cry.
It doesn’t matter. Wire frames are not, and do not need to be, works of art. In fact, they can be quite rough scribbles. The point is, they communicate an idea and allow you to quickly visualise it in an easily digestible format. The image above shows how rough a wire frame can be – it took Jonny only 25 seconds to sketch out but as the front-end developer coding the layout, it gave me all the information I needed.
So, when it comes to quickly mocking up ideas and wire frames, I’m adamant at the moment that a pen and paper is your mightiest tool. It’s the quickest, fastest and most fun way to communicate ideas and from my experience, online tools are yet to match it.
If you disagree or know of a tool that you think does the job better, then let me know.
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