I had a disheartening discussion with a programmer at our office yesterday. He felt that we should not "waste our time" with prototypes, or even wireframes! He said that our creative director found the wireframes limiting, and ended up giving back to us exactly the layout that was provided in the wireframes. I explained that the process of wireframing and prototyping helps work out the flow of content, the page requirements, online interactions, and serves as a guide for design. And I said that many designers I'd worked with had been able to interpret the wireframes just fine. But in essence he was saying skip a good portion of the IA phase of a website project.
When I asked, if not wireframes and protoypes, what do you do? He said: just a word document with an outline (for structure) and the actual designs rather than wireframes. I agree that collaborative prototyping makes sense, but I really feel strongly that the wireframe/prototype stage saves a lot of misery later in the proejct.
I'd love to hear from you all: have you had similar discussions? If so, how have you handled them?