If you’re new to the world of web design or working with others to help build a website for business, you may not be familiar with wireframes and their importance in the web design process.
However, much like how a screenplay assists a film or a brainstorming session helps an essay get on track, making a wireframe for your website is essential for the long-term success of your build and overall end product.
But what exactly is a wireframe? And why is it so important for your web design?
To help you better understand the logic behind wireframes as well as how they can help your web development team go from zero to hero, we’ve got the inside scoop on everything you need to know about this all-important step in web design.
Wireframes in A Nutshell
When it comes down to it, the wireframe itself is just a blueprint. And a rough one at that.
Wireframes act as a way for your clients and web developers to come together and see what goes where on the website. That way, the designers can see ahead and understand what sorts of projects are heading down the pipeline for them.
They may need to create a schematic, or an infographic, or a web-hosted too. The wireframe allows web developers to keep track of what goes where.
Wireframes are also extremely helpful for showing your team what pieces go where, and how these pieces come together to form the whole of the website. For example, your back-end team might only be looking towards how they can help the site load on the server end.
However, if they see the wireframe, they may be able to more effectively and more efficiently plan for the type of load the server is going to go under.
As for what wireframes look like is anyone’s guess, as there’s no set standard. For the most basic and affordable wireframe, web developers will take a piece of paper and a pen and draw out everything they want on their website or application.
These drawings will show the basic design elements that the developers need to know, such as tables, graphics, and animations, as well as show the client or business what the end product is going to look like.
If going analog doesn’t sound like the right plan for you, you can also look online for wireframe software and tools. The best wireframe tool for you is going to be the most intuitive software that keeps your pages organized and ready for viewing by all relevant parties.
This software should also be easy to use and allow you to make a wireframe, and most importantly, change a wireframe quickly.
Building A Skeleton
Much of the reason behind the importance of the wireframe design process is the process of making a skeleton for your website.
Your website is going to ultimately be a web of links and graphics with many parts of each page linking to several other, and often not in a linear order.
By building a wireframe, you can know exactly what you need on what page, and where each page leads. Some wireframes look like flow charts, allowing everyone to see what processes take you where.
Without a wireframe, you’ll be building without a skeleton. Web developers in charge of certain parts of the website won’t know what the other parts look like, which can cause inconsistencies in the design and a muddled overall appearance.
What’s worse is that making a website without a skeleton increases the likelihood for buggy code, broken links, and pages that lead nowhere. You’ll also be struggling to manage region-specific pages if you’re unable to understand where in the site’s skeleton these pieces go.
In short, if you don’t know where the pieces fit, don’t be surprised when the puzzle doesn’t come together as planned.
Showing Off to Clients
One of the other benefits of making a wireframe comes on the client end.
Whether you’re developing your website for a business, client, or individual, odds are high that this person isn’t going to fully understand the web development process. They may know what they want the product to look like, or want it to perform smoothly, but taking that idea and expressing it directly to the web development team is going to take a little bit of trial and error.
That’s where the wireframe comes in. The wireframe marries the design needs of the web development team with the aesthetic and functional desires of the final user and client. Clients can use simpler statements and directly point to where on the wireframe they want changes.
This is also why it is crucial that your wireframe software be easily manipulatable. Making changes to the wireframe before a sprint will help the development team bounce back from notes and changes quicker than ever before.
Finally, you’ll need to keep in mind that wireframes are crucial for developing priorities.
Clients will make it obvious which parts of the website they will want you to focus on. Wireframes make it easy to point directly to which parts of the website need more work so that the Project Manager can delegate resources to the problem area.
Websites are often not linear, and the aren’t built equally, either. Some pages, like the E-commerce or home page, will be more important than others. Being able to look ahead using the wireframe model and see what needs to be the highest priority is crucial.
But regardless of how you use a wireframe, we hope that we’ve been able to point out the crucial elements of them that make them so important to keep around in your web development project.
So whether you’re working on your first wireframe for a client or your building your thousandth website, make sure that the wireframe you’re working with is going to best reflect the skeleton of your website. Put in the effort now, and you’ll be pleased with how much easier web design can be.