Comparable to the blueprint of a home, wireframes are the foundation of building a website. Wireframes should be the first step in the process of designing and developing a new website, and are important for numerous reasons. So, what’s the 411 on wireframes?

WHAT IS A WIREFRAME?

A wireframe is the blueprint, outline, or rough draft of a web page. Here are some characteristics of wireframes:

  • Typically in black and white, or grayscale.
  • Usually do not use any distinct fonts, colors, logos, or design elements, so as to not distract from the true purpose of wireframes in the initial planning phase.
  • Wireframes are meant for deciding on the structure and navigation of the site. This is the foundation that will be built upon later in the process.
  • Utilizes boxes, lorem ipsum “dummy” text, and simple icons to represent elements that will be added in later, like photos, buttons, etc.

WIREFRAMES ARE GREAT FOR VISUAL LEARNERS.

Your client is probably not going to have a lot of knowledge on website design & development (that’s why they came to you for help). As designers, we’re naturally visual people. Creating a wireframe for a client will not only make meetings and explaining the design process to a client easier, but will also help the client be able to literally see and envision a site’s foundation, before any color or design is applied. It is difficult to imagine what a site will look like when all you have is a bulleted list of page titles and what content is going in each page. It is also difficult to ensure your site is going to be user-friendly when you’re distracted by too much color and visual design. Wireframes are the perfect balance, for a basic website blueprint.

WIREFRAMES ENSURE OBJECTIVES ARE ATTAINABLE.

Nobody should build a website just for the sake of it. Websites require a great deal of strategy. What is the goal (or main goals) of your client’s website? What do you want users to see, click on, and engage with? How should you prioritize and organize all of the content in a simple manner that makes logical sense?

Creating a wireframe can be a lot like putting a puzzle together. You need to be able to put elements together that fit well with one another, make sure users are going to be able to navigate the site easily, and get to the content you want them to engage with.

WIREFRAMES HELP IDENTIFY AND CLARIFY FEATURES OF THE SITE.

Pop-ups, videos, animations, oh my! Websites have more interactive features than ever before. Obviously, you don’t want to overload your client’s website with an excessive amount of features, but when you want to add in an automatically scrolling photo album, or have a special drop-down menu at the top of your site, you’ll need to note it in your wireframe. It’s always better to explore features of the site as early in the process as possible, to weed out any bad ideas, and get your client on board with everything the site should have to offer.

WIREFRAMES MAKE THE DESIGN PROCESS ORGANIZED & EASY.

Wireframes are the best place to start when working on a web project. It’s much like writing a term paper, in that you want to start with an outline. Outlines keep all of your thoughts organized, simple, and in one place. The writing process becomes much easier, since you’ve already done the ground work and have everything laid out for yourself. You can also go back and refer to it at any point in the process. It’s hard to just write a paper without any preliminary work. If you design a website without a wireframe, it could cause many headaches between you and the client, and end up causing multiple rounds of revisions (or even starting over from scratch…).

WIREFRAMES ENCOURAGE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CLIENT.

Client relationships are so important – not only for the client’s happiness, but for your own reputation and happiness.

Wireframes show…

  • that you care about staying organized.
  • you care about your client’s time and budget.
  • that you care about providing the best services and solutions to your client(s).
  • how knowledgeable you are about building websites.

WIREFRAMES HELP SAVE TIME IN THE END.

Designing a website without an outline is only going to make the process more difficult. Although it may seem like building a wireframe would be time-consuming, it actually saves time in the end. Wireframes are m