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The first mistake made out there is assuming that wireframes are primarily a design deliverable rather than an information architecture (IA) deliverable. The right interpretation should be self-explanatory. I personally use wireframes to demonstrate information, task flow and page flow rather than branding or graphics design. However, the notion of a wireframe has been expanded lately to include everything from physical hand-drawn paper screen mockups to high-fidelity, fully branded screen designs. This being said, my personal preference is somewhere in the middle as I prefer to use specialized applications to create them as a basis of discussion of content and overall structure rather than visual display.
If anyone's ever looked at a typical wireframe (and i say 'typical' very loosely as everyone personalizes the way they create them), you will notice that it consists of a collection of boxes, controls and annotations that make up the skeleton of an application screen. Each box may be an image, a section, a cell or a placeholder for application content.
When presenting screen design in the form of wireframes, application controls are also included. For example, in the case of a wireframe created for a web application, representations corresponding to HTML form controls will be added to the screen design in order to make the wireframe appear as an early drawing of the final product.
Some people (like me) still prefer 'old school' paper prototyping, card sorting, Visio wireframes and xHTML (for high-fidelity prototyping). However, in my current project I'm managing a UI team of 10, and since joining the project I've been forced to use iRise 6.x for client-relationship reasons, which brings up the title question of this post. There have been many opinions out there about the use of UX-specific tools (such as Axure, iRise, Denim, etc.) and I wonder if there's any consensus out there as far as what works well and what doesn't.
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