Why wireframes are essential to good web design
You may have heard the term “wireframing” at some point in time when talking to a web company about a new design or redesign, but what are wireframes? Wireframing allows you to determine the informational hierarchy of a design while making it easier to plan out the content and user experience.
What is a wireframe?
In simple terms, a wireframe is like a blueprint for a website. It outlines content placement and let’s you examine the user experience before doing anything with colors or fonts or graphics. Wireframes can have several stages. First there are low fidelity wireframes. These are basic sketches on paper of ideas for layout and functionality. Next, you have a medium fidelity wireframe. These are done with software such as Adobe XD, Figma, Sketch, etc. They will allow you to digitally assemble a wireframe and you can also map out interactions, links to other pages, etc. Finally there is the high fidelity mockup or comp. These usually look like the finished product complete with graphics, fonts, colors, and other design elements. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and other software can be used to do this step.
The bonus with this process is you can save time and effort in the long run. If you went straight to the high fidelity mockup or worse yet, straight to code, and you needed to make changes to the design it would take so much more time than simply adjusting the wireframes to reflect the edit.
So here are some top reasons why wireframes are so important to web design and development.
Wireframes display site architecture
The first and foremost reason wireframes are important in web design is to display site architecture. Yes, we know any decent reputable web design company will have a plan in place regarding features and content when designing and developing a website. However wireframing helps the designer to figure out which elements to put on which pages and where on the page to put them. Also where each page links to in the overall plan for the site. This makes it so much easier for a designer to put together a successful design. Wireframes are great tools to get your client to concentrate more on the actual layout and features and less about aesthetics.
Helping to identify “Calls to Action” and other important information
Start by asking yourself, “What do I want a user to do when they get to my site? What steps do I want them take?” Should it be joining a mailing list? Contacting your company for more information? Or maybe you have an e-commerce site and are selling products online and want visitors to click through to potentially make a purchase? By removing the element of design, you will be able direct your focus to these important aspects of your website.
Wireframes allow you to understand your client better
How can a “blueprint” allow a designer to understand its client better? By discussion of the layout, features, and architecture of a project designers and clients’ interaction increases greatly. The more queries and discussion you have together, the more acquainted with each other you become. This plays a vital role in doing the best work possible for them and getting the client to focus more on what is needed.
Wireframes prioritize content
Wireframes are a great way to prioritize content. Instead of concentrating on visuals the client and designer can concentrate on the layout and features that will provide the best experience for the user and the path you want them to take through their time on the website. When you include wireframes in your design process, you win as the designer in the end. Not only is the transition from wireframing to design so much easier but you also eliminate the constant headache of feature and layout changes later in the process. Once the wireframe is approved, you can start designing in the actual file or start coding (if your approved wireframe was a high fidelity mockup.) Since everything in the wireframe is where it will be in the end(usually), you can apply simple styles and get measurements right from the file and apply it to create a stellar design.
So as you probably have figured out, wireframes make for a well thought out design that meets both your client’s and their users’ needs in a more efficient manner. It helps in layout, user experience and potential ROI. Are you using wireframes in your design? If not, what are you waiting for?