Business Analyst Interview Question: What is a wireframe and how do you use it?
A wireframe model is a blueprint of the structure and functions of a user interface, usually a website. The model helps to define the way in which the final solution should look and operate. The Business Analyst builds the wireframe early in the requirements and development process. It usually happens before an actual solution is available to present to the customer. Sometimes a wireframe represents an existing interface with proposals for future changes. You use it to create agreement about what the interface should look like and what functions it should support.
Why build a wireframe in the first place?
There are at least four major reasons to build one.
1) Elicit requirements. When developing a solution with a visual component like a website, a wireframe allows you to put up a “straw man” of the visual requirements for purposes of discussion. Reviewing it will provide stakeholders with a concrete piece of work they can use to evaluate whether the solution under development meets customer needs. They can easily see what is there, what is not, and what should be there. Their observations can then become project requirements.
2) Iterate requirements. It can also be helpful to use a series of wireframes to show how requirements may be added incrementally over time as the solution starts to take shape.
3) Validate requirements. The Business Analyst can use the wireframe to validate that her understanding of the visual components of the solution matches well with stakeholders’ vision. The model can include application of business rules, so as to assure stakeholders that the solution is addressing their rules properly.
4) Improve user experience. A Business Analyst can use a wireframe to showcase changes that can be made to improve the experience a user has when working with the solution. For example, it can show that buttons are in intuitive locations for a user, or that they’re not.
What level of detail does a wireframe require?
The level of detail depends on where in the requirements process you are. Early on, you may work with a low fidelity model, which focuses on bare bones structure and functions without extra frills. Later on in the process you may move to a high fidelity model, which comes close to the final product.
Is a wireframe the same as a working prototype?
It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. It could just be a model with no working functions. Or it could represent functional coding in progress.
A Business Analyst can build a model using something as simple as a whiteboard, Visio, PowerPoint, or one of many wireframe tools available. The purpose is to use a drawing medium to show the basic structure and functions.
On the other hand, an Agile development environment might create iterative working prototypes. Since development periods (“sprints”) are short and incremental, you can create basic working features and then iteratively improve them.
Is a wireframe the same as a mock-up?
No it’s not. A wireframe focuses on structure and functions. A mock-up brings in aesthetic concerns such as colors and logos.
How would you answer this interview question? Leave your thoughts in the comments!