There’s a lot of technical terms in the world of website construction and design, and sometimes they’re difficult to explain to a client. Today, let’s explore one such term, the wireframe, and get to the bottom of why it’s an important root structure to let creative design flourish.
What Are Wireframes?
Let’s start with that—what is a wireframe, anyway? Kind of what it sounds like: the wireframe is the structure for your site, a skeleton over which the canvas of your personal brand can be stretched. Put another way, a wireframe is to a website what a blueprint is to a home—simple, succinct, the bare bones of your website all upfront in black and white. It’s two dimensional, lacking in any distractions. Creating a wireframe helps you tinker with how to direct users through your website through functionality, spacing, and prioritizing.
How Are Wireframes Useful?
Now that we have an idea of what a wireframe is, why should you have one done for your website? There are a few good reasons, most of which fall under ensuring your website is accessible, user friendly, and emphasizing what you want to be emphasizing.
It helps you figure out how usable your site is.
From working out where calls to action should be, to where you place website features, wireframes help you work out the natural flow of your site. It pushes how accessible your site is to the forefront without distractions, allowing you to neutrally focus on what’s important. It’ll also make it apparent what features are truly the most important, which helps narrow your focus to be clean and clear. Wireframes help you ensure that your site’s goals will be met.
It’s easier to pinpoint any areas that need improvement.
With the most simplistic design, it’s easier to figure out what features may not work as intended so you can adjust before adding the bells and whistles that make your site stand out. Wireframes offer an objective view, which also allows for any flaws to be caught and fixed earlier in the design. A stitch in time really can save nine when it comes to website design- in stitches, dollars, and hours!
It helps you figure out how to scale your site up (or down).
This is especially important if you have consistent content or plans to offer a bunch of products over time. Wireframes ensure that whether you have 5 items on the site or 500, the site will remain easy to use and well designed. Being able to update a site without a complete overhaul is something you can build in from the beginning using wireframes. You want a website that will grow with you!
Hopefully, this quick and simple guide to what a wireframe is and how it’s useful can help you in your design process, whether you’re the one designing a site or a client having a site designed. A wireframe can help both of you communicate clearly early on, saving headaches in the future!
Watching a Wireframe in Motion
On complex projects like web applications, a tool that details the journey goes steps beyond a flat user flow and demonstrates the intended behavior. Many tools on the market exist to make wireframes interactive, from Axure RP to Adobe XD and including the market wunderkind Sketch. The key is recognizing when the experience needs this extra layer of consideration before engaging in costly development to find out flaws in the process. With this project from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, our team condensed 36 pages of raw HTML into a simple 3 screen tool. To ensure we covered all the materials and demonstrate the new tool, we used interactive wireframes to demonstrate the depth and effectiveness of the engagement.