A Comprehensive Guide to Website Wireframing

Tags – Website Wireframing

 

A website wireframe is an essential part of the web design process. 

It acts as a blueprint for your website, and helps to ensure that all the elements are in the right place before you start designing. 

In this blog post, we will discuss what a wireframe is, the benefits of using one, and how to create one yourself.

 

What is a Website Wireframe?

A website wireframe is a low-fidelity mockup of your website.

It’s a preliminary design process, and when done well, it will increase the website design’s efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and clarity. 

Wireframes are typically created using simple shapes and lines, and do not include any colour or branding. 

Rather, a wireframe is used to plan the layout of your website and give you a simple overview of how the site’s core elements such as menu items, images, buttons etc. will all come together. 

As a result, designers are able to get a sense of the user experience, and create a foundation to build on when designing the functionality of the website. 

Wireframes can be created by hand or using software such as Adobe Photoshop or Sketch as they don’t feature any styling or graphics, but are more focused on how space will be used.

 

The Purpose of a Website Wireframe

The purpose of a website wireframe is to help you plan the layout of your website before starting the design process. 

A well-crafted wireframe will save you time and money in the long run, as it allows you to map out the functionality of your website and make sure all the elements are in the right place. 

Plus, it can help trigger additional decisions on elements that might be missing, which you didn’t notice until now. 

It also provides a foundation for your design, so you can focus on creating a beautiful and user-friendly website. 

In other words, wireframes are a great way to significantly improve the website’s final usability early on in the design process. 

By having a framework upon which to work, a designer may effectively decide how to prioritise space and distribute the website’s main components.

 

The Benefits of Website Wireframing

Here are the top 5 benefits of prioritising website wireframing in the beginning stages of the design process:

  1. Visual Overview: the most obvious, wireframes help to take a website design idea from initial notes to a brief visual overview, helping to bring clarity in the entire design workflow later on and bringing ideas to life
  2. Save Resources: when designing the website, it becomes far less time-consuming when you can amend the wireframe without having to jump into complicating coding adjustments – and time is money. Wireframing is a more cost-effective way to correct the site before it’s locked in.
  3. Test Usability: as wireframes are so simple to create, you can test different functions, hierarchies and web flows with different design prototypes. When you get stuck into highly-detailed mockups, it’s harder to address functionality issues without starting from scratch each time. Whereas with wireframes, you can test for usability problems quickly and easily make those changes.
  4. Improve Team Communication: because wireframes set the foundation, this visual overview helps the design team to collaborate on the navigation and structure. In addition, content creators, like writers, can check the wireframe to gauge how much space can be allocated for text elements and communicate this back to the designer.
  5. Receive Feedback: it’s important to get approval for design elements early on, as ultimately, the brand owners are responsible for the final decisions. By presenting wireframes at the beginning, getting their feedback will give the designer a clearer vision on where to take the final design elements, like colour, style, fonts, extra functions etc. However, the client won’t be approving the stylistic elements at this stage, they can approve the allocation of blocks that will allow the designer to move onto the next stage (where decisions on more complex visual design elements can be made).

 

How to Design a Website Wireframe

Bear in mind, the wireframing process will differ between designers and can also depend on the type of website being created. 

However to create your own wireframes, here’s a quick 3 step process you can follow. 

Step 1: Initial Sketch

To start off with, be clear on the pages you want to create a wireframe for and have an idea of the main content elements you want to include. 

Typically, this information should come from user research that has been done prior to the design stage, giving you a better understanding of the informational hierarchy. Then, start with the most basic sketch layout – be it with pen and paper or a digital format. 

Here, don’t worry about adding any colours, content or other design detail – just include simple placeholder shapes and label these. It’s also a good idea here to create multiple wireframes for different screen sizes, i.e. desktop, mobile etc.

Step 2: Convert Wireframe into a Mockup

Once you have the initial sketch, the next step is to start adding more details to convert the wireframe into a mockup. For example, you can start adding the following details:

  • Imagery: e.g. pictures, icons
  • Text: including font
  • Buttons: size, colour and style
  • Visual elements: e.g. colour theme
  • Spatial elements: alignment, minimum/maximum height & width

Remember to keep a copy of the original wireframe for future reference or additional edits.

 

Step 3: Continue with Detailed Prototyping

By this stage, your wireframe is now a high-fidelity prototype of the final website. 

Now, you can add all of the interactive elements to bring the static pages to life, such as the UX/UI features (like scrolls, clicks, dropdowns etc.). 

Once everything has been added, you can rest the usability of the site with the internal team, making judgements on what needs to be added or removed, and assessing how easy it is to use. 

Once you’ve tested for all screen sizes, save all the original mockups as adjustments can be easily made with multiple copies – then hit live when you’re happy!

 

Conclusion

Use wireframes to get user and client approval on the page layout and navigation of key pages early in a project. 

Wireframes will provide the project team, particularly the designers, with a sense of security that everything is in order. 

Plus, they will also save a lot of time and money during testing and modifications later in the project.

 

Want to know more? Get in touch today.

In the meantime, take a look at our web design services here.

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