Seeing Is Believing – Using wireframes to save time, money and even seduce a technical cofounder

SwordSoft Wireframe Youtube
A wireframe of Youtube using SwordSoft Layout

We’v all heard the campfire stories of businesses being funded based on a sketch on napkin, but when the occasion calls for more than a sketch to convey the power of your new web application, mobile app or any device with an interface, wireframing does the trick.

Wireframes allow you to storyboard your application without needing the skill of a coder or the eye of a designer by allowing you draw basic elements that represents the skeletal framework of an application.  The wireframe usually lacks fancy font types, refined color pallets or any life-like graphics for that matter. This forces both the creator and audience to focus on the functionality and priority of the content displayed on the various screens throughout the application.

Wireframes can be as simple as a collection of drawings on graph paper or as complex as fully CSSed website minus the database connection. I personally found a happy medium with an application called SwordSoft Layout (available for Mac and PC).

By keeping things digital it allows you to quickly replicate screens so you only have to change a few elements each time to build out the application. The real party piece of SwordSoft Layout however is the ability to activate any element (buttons, pictures, links, etc.) so that when clicked on, it takes the user to the next appropriate wireframe. THIS IS HUGE!!! for replicating the usability and user experience of the app before a line of code is even written.

This is also why I highly recommend SwordSoft Layout over Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple’s Keynote because those applications are really only good for linear presentations. Wireframes at their best can transform skeptics into believers and at their worst, open the door to brutal feedback. Both outcomes are great in my opinion. So let’s recap and tie this back into the original hook of this post. 

Wireframing Saves Time

  • Developers spend more time asking the tough questions, not on fluff 
  • The time before getting quick feedback from friends and advisors is close to zero (you can do this in a weekend)
  • Wireframe allow you to show a visual aid for investors to “get it”, instead of just blabbering on

Wireframing Saves Money

  • You’ve cut 25 to 50% of the development cost in miss communication overruns
  • You can do it in your spare time without relying on costly professional help
  • You can do it for free with a pen & paper or my preferred SwordSoft Layout app
  • You’ll be able to see if it worth moving forward with your idea or pull the plug before your put serious cash into the project
Wireframing Can Seduce A Technical Cofounder
 
There are countless ways for those without the technical skills to make their technical idea work. Most fall into 2 camps: focus on how to become that technical person (learn to code) or acquire a team with the necessary skills (raise money to hire someone or bring on a technical cofounder).
 
Being a semi-technical guy, wireframing helps in the discussions dealing with hired guns or evaluating taking the plunge with a technical cofounder. By having wireframes in your pocket you instantly have more street credit with coders and can get down to the business of fleshing out the next steps. More importantly the talent you are trying to seduce knows that while you may not be able to speak fluent code, you know how to communicate on technical-ish level. That is usually enough to hook them for an initial meeting.
 
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Post any questions below and I’ll get right back to you. I’m especially interested in other people’s favorite apps/methods for wireframing.

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