An introduction to wireframes
Much like any industry, web design has a broad selection of terminology that is often used to explain features, processes, elements, and more. But what do these terms actually mean, and when should they be used?
Well, in the first post of new blog series, Understanding Web Design Terminology, we’ve managed to pull our design team away from their Figma files and mood boards, to help get to the bottom of one specific design term – the wireframe!
What is a wireframe?
Simply put, a wireframe is a clean, minimal, and stripped-back presentation of the where page elements will be placed, and how these elements will sit alongside one-another on the page.
The layouts are often completed in black and white, with the absence of colour, font choices, logos and other final-design elements ensuring that the structure becomes the main focus of these documents.
The best way of imaging them is as the ‘blue-prints’ for your new website – much like how an architect would plan the layout of a new building!
Why are wireframes useful?
Wireframes are useful for many reasons and play a key part in the overall web design process. The main benefits are listed below:
- Wireframes provide clear representation of layouts and placements: up until this stage of your web design project, you’ll have only interacted with flat sitemaps and potential user flows, whereas wireframes begin to pull these abstract elements together into an initial visual form. This means both designers and clients can begin to envisage how the final site might look, and where users will be able to interact with content.
- The wireframing process allows both designers and clients to clarify website features: the simple nature of wireframes ensures functionality is considered, and interactions are understood. Removing all aspect of design places functionality at the forefront of overall discussions.
- Designers are presented with a clear plan, ahead of the final design stage: as your web design team begin to apply styles and branding, the wireframes act as a point of reference for early-stage design concepts and mock-ups, and ensure all relevant elements are included.
- Wireframes enable designers to plan for website responsiveness: given their style, wireframes allow designers to consider how elements will collapse or expand on various devices and screen-sizes. In a mobile-first digital world, this is an extremely valuable benefit of the wireframing process.
What makes a good wireframe?
The most effective wireframes showcase functionality, layouts, and user-flows – rather than visual design and creative application. There’s plenty of time for creativity at later stages of the overall process, so focusing on the core elements during wireframing will ensure later stages run successfully.
How long do wireframes take to complete?
As with any web design project, timelines are dependent on the individual brief and requirements, and therefore the wireframing stage will reflect this. Given their impact in the overall project, wireframes should certainly be given the time they deserve, but within project scope and timeframe.
Although just a small component of a comprehensive web design process, wireframing is as important as any other stage during the project!