all. I'm wondering how do you spec./plan out your project? For example, for webiste you can use Wireframe. How about for desktop or add-ins such as MS Office add-ins? I want it as simple as possible and don't want spend all day using some sort of diagram software to sketch it out. Do I simply write down what features I want to build for the software then filter out what is possible and what is not possible? Any tips is appreciated.

4 Answers 4


The absolute simplest method of 'em all is to whiteboard it and take pictures of what you've done.

  • Everyone's got cell phone cameras these days... Commented May 31, 2011 at 16:19


For initial ideas, sketches, basic flow charts.


Once I have the ideas down. I flesh out the methods, flow charts etc. in MS Visio. Then I start writing


Wireframes will work for any GUI - it doesn't have to be a web GUI. I've absolutely used them for client apps in Java using Swing, for example.

I think in general, you need to spec at the level at which you need to communicate. Since your UI involves both developers and users, you need to spec at a level at which everyone involved can understand. For a fast, 1-3 man project, that's probably a sketch in a notepad or on a white board. For a big 20 + person project that's probably:

  • initial team brainstorming on a whiteboard
  • elaboration with Visio or another tool that will at least draw GUI-looking objects
  • Use case elaboration of what happens before, during and after the pictures
  • over arching style guides and dictionaries so that as people draw GUIs, the interfaces look alike
  • specifications between systems if needed

I'm a big proponent of putting out only as much design as you need. If you can draw it, have the user feel confident in your solution, and have your team reach a shared understanding of the plan - then you're good.

  • +1 for switching media when you have to. No single tool has to do every job...there is significant value in switching fluently between whiteboards, paper, Visio, mockups, etc. Commented May 31, 2011 at 16:19

Whiteboard+marker and/or paper and pencil work for me. I have heard many say so too. It is, in a way, connecting the dots between what is desired and what is existing.

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