Do Tools Matter?

Mon 14 March 2011
By Martin Polley

Michael Angeles has an interesting post over at about how our tools are not important.

"Don't let anyone tell you that the tools you choose are wrong or inappropriate. Find the right design and keep winning."

This got retweeted a lot. I read it and found myself agreeing. I even retweeted it myself. But since then I have been thinking about this a fair bit. And now I'm not so sure.

I think he's missing something by only talking about one side of the tool question. The side that deals with working through a design. As he writes, "There are no good or bad tools for finding the right design." But there is another side to this. And that is concerned with what we do with the things we create using our tools.

And there I think there are not insignificant differences in fit between the actual deliverable and the thing we want it to do for us. As Bill Buxton has said on many occasions "Everything is best for something and worst for something else." And we use the deliverables that we create for several different things: To show to our designer colleagues for the purposes of collaboration and critique. To show to stakeholders, for the purpose of getting buy-in. To share with our developer colleagues so that they will know what to build at the required level of detail.

A wireframe is good for working with design colleagues. A video walkthrough may be the best thing to show to stakeholders. And a high-fidelity HTML prototype may be better for communicating to developers than an annotated wireframe.

Maybe I'm stating the obvious here. What do you think?