Interesting perspective — but I do not entirely subscribe.
1. I think of wireframes as a rough draft…. a living document, a way to sketch in organized thought without investing to heavily in the time it takes to ‘prettify’ in visual design.
2.I also think wireframes are a great artifact to store interactive notes that relate to the actual schematic. Invision may allow comments on top of a comp but I never feel satisfied that my comments inline are well documented when in that form. It’s just not sufficient and easy for others to overlook.
3. Who says wireframes end when visual design begins? I think UI, Visual Design, and actual HTML/CSS etc should have sign offs per each part of the process — but all need to evolve from inception to deployment. Sometimes design evolves or devolves from the different hands that touch each stage. Regardless, a true team would understand the nature of creation and it’s the execution in the end that can make or break a user experience. That is not entirely a UX designers role. It’s a team that needs to constantly go back and forth and evolve the UI.
4. What I am hearing in your words is that in your experience, management has used wireframes in a waterfall approach without thinking of them as an initial conceptual and structural phase of any project, or a way to document a history and evolution of a product: a living document that serves all pillars of design — Product, Strategy and Engineering. That’s a shame. A good wireframe schematic document can serve each phase very well, plus show the paper trail of a project to provide for accountability.
What you have deemed as a ‘technical document’ is indeed what a sincere wireframe schematic UI phased document should be. They are quicker to create than a prototype and the time it takes to make them gives a UX designer time to process the features and flow. They should never be the ‘end all’. Many of my epiphanies have happened during coding. Then again, I do UX, Visual Design and front end code. This really helps the design and interaction evolve with my hands in all phases,
I think the best result is actually not dividing UX and Visual Design. I’ve always thought this was a silly notion that the industry has bifurcated this crucial role of being a strategic designer. Fit and finish is just icing on the cake. Why not be the person who makes the recipes and does the baking too?!
Just my two cents.