Wireframes - the skeletal structures for websites - are crucial in creating an intentionally designed and developed website. Typically, wireframes are 2D grayscale representations of the elements that need to appear on each page of a website. Wireframes can be incredibly simple, with large blocks representing text and images, or more complex, using content to visualize a completed webpage.
Wireframing allows web designers and developers to see all of the components on one page and test the design’s functionality and usability. This process benefits designers/developers, clients, and future users of the site.
Why all designers/developers should wireframe
As more and more consumers make the switch to web browsing on mobile devices, wireframes are a great way to map out functionality, responsiveness, and prioritize design that works across a variety of devices.
By outlining the bare bones for key pages, designers can prioritize content and establish a clear hierarchy. This type of building is known as information architecture.
Information architecture is defined as “the process that focuses on organizing, structuring, and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks.”
When wireframes are completed, designers and developers can analyze the current structure, make necessary changes, and ensure that the form of the page matches the function. This process lets designers push the bounds of what is expected from web design while helping the developer by giving them clear content, design, and behavior guidelines.
Wireframes make clients happier
One of the benefits of wireframing is improved client communication and feedback. Showing clients wireframes allows them to get a sneak peek of the final layout.
Previewing this structure and hierarchy of a website allows clients and designers to collaborate and make necessary changes before the heavy lifting is done. This ensures clients are pleased with the direction the project is headed in, making for a faster, more efficient process overall.
Framing up a great user experience
A website that is easy to navigate and has a consistent flow of information was likely built from wireframes. This process ensures that a website is structured in a way that visitors will connect to and engage with.
Wireframes organize the flow of information by creating a seamless user journey. With content outlined in a wireframe, designers can test for usability and navigation, creating a solid foundation for an optimized user experience.
If you’re looking to create wireframes, there are plenty of free tools available - including pencil and paper. We’re loving Figma at the moment for testing usability and capturing the essence of a page without fully building it out. Other great tools include Adobe XD and Sketch.