You may have seen the term ‘wireframe’ or ‘wireframing’ thrown about in regard to website designs and development, but might still be unsure what the term is, what is involves or why it is important.
Wireframing is used in the website design process and it involves designing a skeleton of the project, mapping out the project and elements it might involve. It is an easy and efficient way for arranging a project and its contents and maximises user experience. Wireframes are simple and are void of colour and styles, so the focus is on the projects foundation and not what colour should go where. Placements are laid out, site features are determined and the navigation of the site is distinguished. It is a great way for clients and stakeholders to see their project and website design in black and white (no pun intended), and to give feedback.
An example of our own wireframe for home pages of websites
Wireframes are absolutely vital in website development for the following reasons:
1. Map out functionality
Creating a wireframe for website developments allows you to map out the functionality of the website, the website design and the pages throughout it. The reason why wireframes are so effective is that you catch out problems early on in the project. Making changes to a wireframe compared to a mock-up or a live website is that it saves time, it’s less painful and you don’t have to go through the hassle of making multiple changes to something that is already solid. The “back and forth” progress is much easier to do and implement on a wireframe as it is only a skeleton rather than a concrete creation.
2. Clear way to show to clients and to keep them focused
A wireframe is a simple, clear and concise way of informing clients about a project which is quite complex. Without colours, styles and images, it is easier for clients and stakeholders to see and understand elements of their project. It is also a smart way to get clients to start thinking about elements they want in their project and how everything will work together. This allows for the clients to become engaged early and to start thinking about their project early on, rather than see something half way through and not like it. This allows for communication to start early and makes the flow of the project much smoother.
3. Great tool for gathering feedback
If you want your project to run as efficiently as possible, utilising a wireframe at the first stage of your project allows for your team to gather meaningful and constructive feedback early on, which will save time, money and resources down the track. Without gathering feedback early in the process, you set yourself up for a difficult revision process which disintegrates any efficiency you were hoping for at the start of each project.
4. Great way to prioritise content
When designing a wireframe at the start of a project, you distinguish a hierarchy of elements. You discover what elements are needed for each page, the time each element will take and how much work and time this project will involve. This helps your team be organised, allows the team to plan effectively and helps with administration type concerns regarding the length and complexity of each project. This allows for peak efficiency for your team and allows you to become more organised and transparent with your clients regarding the length and cost of the projects by nailing this early on.
5. Acts as blueprint and website foundation
Without a wireframe, you have no sturdy foundation or blueprint for your project. A wireframe allows for your team to effectively base their work off a concrete foundation to execute their tasks to the best of their ability. A wireframe acts as a guide and a map for producing elements of a job and provides a team with a clear guide of what is needed to complete a project, rather than verbally being told what to do or trying to figure it out as the project goes on.
6. Better user experience
Creating and planning a wireframe with a team allows for the experience and knowledge of a team to put together the most effective and elite project. It is highly inefficient for one person to plan a project as there is only one perspective, one train of thought and one person’s knowledge and experience contributing to the make-up of a project. Having a team create a wireframe together produces a better user experience as there are a mix of perspectives and wisdom, creating an elite user experience for the project.
Before commencing your next project, try implementing wire-framing and compare how efficiently and effectively your team works in order to complete the project and how much more your client appreciates the involvement and engagement.