In her article about wireframes Christina Wodtke, the author of “Information Architecture – Blueprints for the Web” discusses the use of wireframes in the design process. I agree with some of her thoughts, but in my view she missed one.
The first argument against wireframes is that they emasculate the designer. Yes, they do and I think no designer wants to get your wireframes and just paint by numbers. On the other hand designers need to have something to design. And that’s what from my experience should be in wireframes. The should inform the designer about the content that should be on the page, in the form etc. I have been working with some good designers, one of them Nina Wilke, who sometimes tell the IA that they missed this function or that information. But that should be the IAs job – to gather and structure the content – not to visualize or design it.
In addition, if you already have a good visual design and an running site, wireframes are sometimes just enough what a developer needs to get the page done. There’s no need to create designs for every aspect and thus be faster in the design process.