Meet the Book: Wireframing for Everyone by Michael Angeles, Leon Barnard, and Billy Carlson
May 03, 2023
We’re so excited for you to read Wireframing for Everyone, a new book by Michael Angeles, Leon Barnard, and Billy Carlson, launching June 13.
In the meantime, we’re giving you a peek into the book with our Meet the Book Q&A series. Read on to learn what inspired the most important ideas of the book, how the three authors collaborated to unify their voices, and who should read this book.
A Book Apart: What was the initial spark that motivated you to write this book?
Michael, Leon, and Billy: There are plenty of books about software product management, user experience design, and programming, but there are hardly any that address the interplay and amount of work that happens between these disciplines. Books geared toward these individual audiences tend to reinforce the silos that obstruct better design and products.
Our hands-on experiences with wireframing have shown it to be an effective common language that can unify teams and foster a culture of collaboration necessary for building great products. It felt like a book on the topic was missing from the conversation.
ABA: How long did it take you to write this book?
M, L, B: We actually wrote the first draft in about three months, writing two to three chapters each, which we decided to divide up among us in advance. It took another year of rewriting and editing to refine our ideas and unify three individual voices.
ABA: When/where did you feel most in a state of flow while writing this book? Least?
M, L, B: We felt most in flow while writing the first draft. We had done a lot of work to create an outline we felt good about and all felt like we knew what to write going into it. We felt least in flow in the first few rounds of editing, when we had to challenge a lot of those initial ideas. The later edits showed that those first edits make the book much clearer and more readable, but we couldn’t see that far ahead early on.
ABA: How did you come up with the title for this book?
M, L, B: The title changed several times throughout the writing. We knew that “wireframing” would be central, but we went back and forth on whether the title should tell readers that this was the definitive book on wireframing, or whether it should focus more on the book’s core message that wireframing is something that anyone can (and should!) do. For most of the writing the title was The Wireframing Book, which was shortened simply to Wireframing until very recently. Finally, as we were wrapping up edits, we went back to the original title of Wireframing for Everyone, which nicely mirrors two previous titles: Accessibility for Everyone and SEO for Everyone.
ABA: In one sentence, what is your book’s driving, or most important, idea?
M, L, B: Wireframes help generate more ideas for digital products and bring diverse software team roles together to build better products.
ABA: Who did you write this book for?
M, L, B: We wrote the book primarily for non-designers who play the role of a designer. For example, a business analyst, product manager, or entrepreneur, who doesn’t have access to a dedicated UX designer. This is a much more common role than is represented on the web and in social media.
We’ve each known dozens of these people, who are designing the software that powers industries and internal systems across the world, without a background in design techniques or tools. Learning about wireframing can be game-changing for them because it gives folks an intuitive way to translate all their customer and domain knowledge into user interface solutions.
ABA: What part of the book was most challenging to write?
M, L, B: The chapter on feedback was especially challenging. Feedback is a critical part of the process, but it was a struggle to explain how to do it. We’ve read what other designers have suggested for running critiques, but didn’t want to be so prescriptive. Our approach is informal and light, and we hope what comes across is informative, yet flexible enough to get more people to make feedback part of their process.
(Side note: There were a lot of meta occurrences in this book—getting feedback on getting feedback!)
ABA: Why will readers want to learn about this topic from you?
M, L, B: Imagine a HUGE wireframing nerd, then multiply that by three (weird flex, but ok)! We all work at Balsamiq because we believe deeply in the power of wireframing, and we wanted jobs where we could support and advocate for it. This book is the result of decades of developing ideas about and real-world experiences with wireframing.
ABA: How do you hope the web will change once people read and apply lessons in your book?
M, L, B: We hope that people—particularly those that are new to digital design—see the value of idea exploration and iteration, that they see how easy it is to do using low-fidelity methods, and they find the right designs for their audience as a result. Web design is becoming quite rigid, and our book advocates for more creativity early on in order to come up with ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
ABA: How did you choose the cover color for this book?
M, L, B: All three of us moved to California as adults, which is something we’ve bonded over. It’s also where the book was written, so our initial thoughts were either gold (for California’s nickname, “the golden state”) or blue, for the Pacific Ocean, which is now only a short drive away from home for us. A Book Apart’s cofounder and creative director director Jason Santa Maria steered us gently away from gold because of its limited range, and sent us two great blues to consider. We all gravitated toward the rich, ocean-like shade that now appears on the cover (which also happens to represent the ocean in Aruba’s flag!)