Wireframers & Strategists

I’ve found myself from time to time thinking about this pairing. In my UX career, I’ve found myself playing both roles, and love them each at times. To clarify, I’m using wireframers to mean IAs/IxDs that solve tactical, detailed problems and strategist those that deal with the overarching, conceptual issues. In smaller shops, or one woman shows it is easy enough to say that these two roles are one and the same. However, in larger companies this is often not true. These two roles are usually split, and I always think back to why. I’ve worked on the strategy side of things for big corporations and so I have a understanding from my point of view of why there is a split, but I would be interested in hearing more opinions from you. Please feel free to comment below, I think it may be interesting what different people say. Also feel free to note your current side of the fence so to speak. Thanks!

4 Responses

  1. Lee
    Lee at |

    Wireframing and strategy are very distinct disciplines to me. Despite requiring similar high levels of critical, analytical thinking, they exist in very different domains with different focuses. A design analyst might be able to solve extremely complex interaction issues for an application or even an entire product ecosystem, but that is of little consequence if the product has no audience. Conversely, a strategist could brilliantly craft a five-year plan for a product or product line that everyone needs, but that really wouldn’t matter much if the design is flawed in some fundamental way.

  2. Mary Tung
    Mary Tung at |

    Hi Lis,

    Great thought! I often wondered and complained about it myself. As a person who started out as an IA and therefore overly protective of wireframes and thinking in a tactical manner, it is sometimes (very) hard from me let go of that when i’m trying think as a strategist, and sometimes it prevents me from getting to the really big picture.

    Having the opportunity to work at both a big and small company, it really came down to resource: there’s just not enough time for someone to be dedicated to both.

  3. Greg P.
    Greg P. at |

    Most of my experience has been in enterprise as a strategist. I see the strategist as essentially the business director, setting large goals for the product portfolio. The “wireframers” (though of course they do much more than that!) initiate and execute distinct projects to support the business strategy.

    I’m certainly not convinced that’s the way it is everywhere, though. 🙂



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