Don’t Fear the Re-Write

March 17, 2010

Couldn’t be more inspired. Want to rush back and change things. Want to improve the process, guide my clients (and products) to a better place. Better decisions, better process, better outcome.

I realize that I am not necessarily entitled to some of the grumblings I have indulged in recently. Namely, I look at wireframes as a defined set of functionality and when someone messes with that, it frustrates me.

First, and most frequently, designers take a wireframe, and then they change things. They go outside the lines. And while conceptually it should be fine to change a layout when going from wireframe to storyboard, it can still have an impact on the development sometimes (what was one unified section for RIA gets split into two because they’re no longer next to each other, for example).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for championing the designers and making sure that the design fits the client’s vision. It’s an essential piece that too many projects neglect. However, I’m very cognizant (due to the nature of my business) of the fact that there need to be documented, measurable deliverables. I work in a business of developers. There are scrums, there are features, there are deliverables, there are deadlines.

And somehow, we all are surprised when things don’t align perfectly to the wireframes and specs, especially when design is thrown into the mix. Now, I happen to live between two worlds — the developer and the designer. I know what each needs, and I know each is essential. I also know that there needs to be a balance between these two worlds, and that we have to work together to guide, craft and deliver what the client really wants.

I see now that there are expectations that need to be managed better. I think it’s a great idea (from Nishant Kothary’s "Elephant in the Room" session) to have a contract that is defined between the designer and the reviewer. I’d like to apply that to my own thoughts — a contract around the wireframe.

And I liked Anthony Franco’s "The Laws of User Experience" session, where he reminded me that we should EXPECT to rewrite code. So rather than get frustrated when I need to rewrite, I want to remember that it’s part of the necessary process to get to the truly successful result.

Oh I love my job again. Gotta get to the next session.

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