Exploring the 4-step agile management project cycle to improve your wireframing from early on. Read on to learn more!
Not too long ago, we wrote to you about the pros and cons of Agile UX Vs Lean UX. Agile has skyrocketed in the past few years, so let’s discuss the agile management cycle for wireframing and prototyping. So, you’re about to start a new web development project. Awesome! You’ve got that first, amazing idea and you know that the first step is work through from the initial ideas right until the final launch. From paper sketching to basic wireframing and interacting hi-fi prototyping to production. So, how do you get there?
The problems we’re looking to overcome
Many organizations and teams across industries and throughout the world are using Agile methodology to get the advantages of faster product delivery, shortened feedback loop, and increased collaboration between teams.
More specifically, the problems organizations and teams usually face include the following:
- Communication problems between team members. Websites and software can be pretty complex sometimes, and words aren’t very specific to describe them, or jargon can be very hard to understand for non-technical people. It’s important to always speak clearly and make sure that everyone understands what’s being expected and required from them.
- Lack of comprehension of project requirements.
- Several changes, discrepancies between versions, modifications throughout the development phases.
The 4-step Agile Methodology
So, what is Agile Methodology?
Agile is an iterative approach to tackling software development. It is used to provide an environment of reflection, collaboration and constant reevaluation to uncover better ways of developing software while having the ability to react to change. Let’s take a look at how it works in the wireframing and prototyping flow of the software and web development process.
1. Functional Requirements Definition: a common myth is that agile projects do not require any planning. Despite its increased flexibility compared to other methods, this myth is completely wrong. The first thing that must be accomplished is to communicate with your stakeholders, discuss, plan and decide what the primary requirements are and what how you should define them visually. Then, let the team come up with commitment and delivery plan which they feel comfortable with. With Justinmind Enterprise, you can easily make your requirements visual and communicate them to stakeholders.
2. Low Fidelity Wireframing: here, the team creates a wireframe design of the project requirements, the content and the basic layout. When everyone knows what they’re doing, and how things connect and interact, it’s easier to get complete the project, and reach your goals. By using a wireframe, you’ll be able to reduce costs and time expenses, improving work quality. The wireframe should explain the basic functionality, a simple explanation of the main steps, phases and requirements, and the layout. These wireframes play the role of the map of your product. However, for a more precise, Google-Street-View-model instead of a birds-eye view, you’re going to need a high-fidelity prototype.
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3. High Fidelity Prototyping: this is where we simulate the final product. Sometimes, you need to show the user flow, e.g. what kind of information a box shows when a button gets clicked, and how that color changes when the mouse hovers over the box. All of this must be in the final product, so it has to be planned, specified and coded – but above all, it has to be prototyped. Without a prototype before coding, you’re going to waste a lot of time and frustrate a lot of your team. Imagine you code something, send it to your stakeholders and they hate it. Had you presented them with a prototype and they hated it, it’s not such a big deal. With a prototyping, the rework tends to be far less costly and challenging in terms of the work load. Structural changes are never easy to make, because they can affect the whole project. But, with a prototype, it’s easier to change things and don’t have these modifications destroying everything. In this case, a lo-fi wireframe is not enough. These wireframes work just as a map of the web, but for a bigger site, you’ll need to show the user navigation options. So, the ideal solution is a high-fidelity screen mockup that works just as if it was the real website, reacting and interacting with the user.
4. Validation: here, the product’s simulation is tested with real users, project managers, and clients and stakeholders in order to gather feedback. Everything is documented to allow the final developers (coders, designers, etc.) to build it exactly as it was approved. Remember, in Agile, deliverables should be early. We need to divide the deliverable into smaller pieces, so that can be delivered earlier, and feedback loops can be shortened. In this way, we can understand what the stakeholders/users really want and need. With a prototype, it’s easier to explain how an idea works and how it should be coded; avoiding the infamous misunderstandings that often hinder the progress of a project. Besides, a prototyping too with drag and drop intuitive philosophy makes your prototype creation easy and brings real value to the process.
The benefits of Agile when wireframing
- Avoid re-work: never underestimate the headaches a badly planned project can bring, and that’s why we have to organize for the unpredictable. Changes and modifications can be hard on your team, and can cause stress and unwanted discussions, and drain time and resources. But, if the changes take place during prototyping stage, the project can be coded in one single stage, with very few interruptions. Essentially, prototyping is the best way to fail.
- Avoid software bugs: one of the main causes of bugs is when a component is changed and it affects other parts without the team knowing. Avoiding modifications can prevent software errors.
- Control of modifications and versions: when you can share and review prototypes, it is easy to see who has made a modification, when, and in within which iteration. Keeping a register of changes, and who is responsible for what is essential.
- Documentation: By generating documentation e.g. docs for registry and control, HTML for sharing among partners and for testing/presentation, CSV for data, your information can always be edited and shared.
- Clear communication: with a prototype, it’s so much easier to explain an idea. By creating life-like prototypes and simulating them on the actual device, everyone can visualize their ideas more realistically and you can ensure strong product and design team alignment.