The wireframing process will help create an outline that will give your website an organized structure and a clear vision for the design process. If you have never planned your business website with wireframes, this article will give you some insight as to what a wireframe is and the benefits of using them when strategizing and developing your site.
Wireframing is a part of a website design process that helps you better organize your site’s layout depending on how you want a visitor to understand the information you present. The wireframe is essentially a blueprint of the placement of visual elements, navigational components, and content that will compose a particular page on the website. Wireframes are either drawn or produced by software applications by designers and developers for the purpose of prioritizing content and functionality of each webpage. Within the process of building a site, the wireframes serve as a clarification of the design concept and structure of the site to the client.
What a wireframe does not include:
- text font or style
- visual graphics
The Purpose of Website Wireframing
The purpose behind a wireframe is to determine the functionality and composition of a webpage. This is especially important in UX Design, since the focus is on how a visitor will engage with the content placed in front of them. By conceptualizing how all the components of the website will work together to better engage an online audience, there will likely be a better return on investment in a website redesign as it can lead to increased traffic and time spent on the site.
Once a wireframe has been created to serve as a guideline for the new site, the designers can then begin to create mockups (which focuses more on the visual elements) and prototypes (which are semi-functional web page layouts).
The Importance of Wireframing
Without a set structure for the site content, redesigning a website can become overwhelming. A wireframe also helps establish a concept for the website in its early stages, which is helpful when communicating with a client to make sure the project is meeting their requirements.
- Sitemap- A sitemap will help a client understand the design team’s process behind the strategy for organizing information
- Content Layout and Structure- Once the site’s content is properly organized, a layout can more easily be developed for conceptually presenting content to an audience
- Allows for Incorporation of Features and New Elements- Once a strategic layout has been established, it is easier to determine where important calls to action can be placed to encourage a visitor to engage with the site
How Wireframes are Used in UX Design
Wireframes are used by different team members involved in the website redesign process to communicate a cohesive blueprint for the website layout. A developer will use a wireframe to conceptualize the functionality, where a designer uses it as an outline of the UX design process. Wireframes are also necessary to provide to stakeholders involved in the project to make sure the business objectives and requirements for content and navigation are properly met. In order to avoid conflict within the wireframing process, a business analyst will usually create a basic wireframe to serve as a starting point to meet the necessary business objectives, and the designers will further develop the wireframe with more interactive details and design components.
There are two types of wireframes:
Low fidelity- more quickly produced wireframes used in the earlier stages of a project that serve more as communication of a concept between the web team and the client. These wireframes lack any design details and content.
High fidelity- used in the later stages of the project, these wireframes take more time to produce since they include some of the real content and images to be used on the website. These wireframes more closely match the actual design outcome of the new site.
What to Include in a Wireframe:
- Information design- This part of the wireframe is comprised of all of the communicational elements included within the design. It will also showcase how the site content could be presented. The informational design will also include general elements- such as headers, footers, sidebars, and content/image areas.
- Navigational design- This part of the wireframe helps conceptualize the options a visitor has for browsing through various pages on the site; and shows the relationship between links on a webpage.
Interface design- This part of the wireframe focuses on the UX design elements that affect how a visitor engages with the site. The interface design will conceptualize an effective site layout that is both functional and efficient to use. Elements included in this part of the wireframe include action buttons, drop down features, and text boxes within a webpage page.
In conclusion, the wireframing process will help a client to conceptualize the ideas and strategy behind the project in its early stages, giving them an opportunity to provide feedback and make adjustments as needed. The wireframe also serves as a communication component among the entire web design team, so the project meets all business objectives before the design is further developed.
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