Wireframing: What is it? And how can it be used as an effective tool to develop your app? Wireframing is a method of backend organization that depicts the layout of pages and button navigation. Wireframes are a vital tool in understanding how an app or website is going to function as well as what the user interface should look like.
How is a Wireframe Made?
A wireframe can be made in a few different ways, they can be created on something as simple as a sheet of paper all the way up to an actual computer model of the layout in Adobe XD. They can be created in a few different ways for different reasons. For brainstorming and idea generation, it’s good to have a paper or simple digital model as it’s just for sketching and it will change a lot as your idea grows and develops. Whereas when you are presenting your idea to a potential customer or investor, a paper sketch doesn’t look as professional, and a digital model would be much more effective. To create a wireframe, all you need is an understanding of how you want the layout of your pages to look, know what elements you’ll need on your homepage such as tabs on the top or bottom, main articles or featured content, and other elements that make your app or website function. Know this though, just because you come up with your own layout design doesn’t mean it will make it into the final product. Lots of development teams have a UI/UX designer on their team who will take your ideas and make them into a functioning design as they are the experts and have a high level of knowledge in design.
How are Wireframes Used?
Wireframes are used to plan and design the layout of buttons, interactive elements, and content on app or website pages in a visual format. They also present clients with how the app will look and plan things such as colors, tabs, and buttons on the page.They are mostly used in the development process to make design decisions with the client or potential investors so they can visualize what they are going to be creating or funding. Nothing in a wireframe is permanent and everything can be updated or changed to fit the need for the project’s design. The purpose of a wireframe is to plan the user interface design in an easy to understand format that can be changed and updated as the planning process moves forward.
When Should You Make a Wireframe?
Wireframing should take place after you have validated your project’s identity and goals. When you are ready to put in the work required to make your concept a reality. Wireframing can take place at any point in the development process as it’s something that has to be continually planned out and improved upon, but typically takes place once the actual project is ready to be set in motion with a development team.
How Can You Create an Effective Wireframe?
Web design is no easy task and understanding how layouts and design works takes a special eye and level of understanding. What you as the product owner can do however, is understand what basic elements you’ll need to have to get your app to function. Having the knowledge of what things your app needs to do and how those functions can be completed will put you ahead of the game when it comes to planning and brainstorming ideas.Whether it’s an API for google maps or a fillable pdf plugin, knowing what elements are needed can speed up the planning process and help your developers move faster. Another thing that you can do to create an effective wireframe is have a well thought out brand guide with a color palette and design specifications for your logo and other branded elements. This gives the designer a clear idea of what your brand looks like and feels like so they can make appropriate choices for designs.
Plan Your Content
You know what you need for your app or website and what will make it stand out against your competitors and other products. Plan out what content and information you will need for your product to function properly and how that could be laid out on the pages. Figure out what supporting pages you’ll need and what buttons on the start page will be required to get to those supporting pages. Gather content you’ll need like documents, marketing graphics, and supporting material to ensure that you have enough content to support all of your pages within the app or website. Knowing what it will take to make your product operate well is an important first step in planning your wireframes and layout.
One of the best things you can do to help create the best possible product is to get inspired from other designs and websites. Do some market research and see what websites and app layouts are out there that you like, as well as what you don’t like and use that knowledge in your own ideas for designs. Look at the top selling products and see how they were created and what influenced their product design. One of the best ways to do this is to search out your businesses keywords and see what comes up in Google. Take a look at what ranks the highest and see what they are doing well and what you can take away from their success. The more research you do and the more information you can give to your development team, the better off they will be.
Find an Existing Template or Layout.
The internet is massive so take a peek into exciting sites and identify what you want to emThis can be something as simple as a cool font or button shape to something as big as an entire webpage layout and design that you would like to have for yourself. A great way to get inspired is to use a website like Canva or a SaaS tool like Adobe to look at elements that you like so you can start to put together a brand guide. While it’s not important to have all of your elements picked out right away, having key elements decided upon will speed up the development process and in the end, cost less for you.
The Basis of Wireframe Design
To understand what makes a good wireframe you must first understand a few simple things about designing a user interface and what makes a good design. The main objective of a wireframe is to provide a user focused experience that allows users to have an easy time navigating and using the product for its main function. So, then you may ask yourself what things you can focus on to make your product as user friendly and as best as it can be?
- Make it functional. Start with the basics of your MVP and focus on things like accessibility, layout, and navigational tools to make your app easy to use.
- Create an effective wireframe structure. Move things with higher priority to the top and front of your pages and leave the less important ones to the lower areas. Categorize the information clearly before you create all the design elements.
- Divide the screen into sections. Break up the screen for each important section of the product and design the thighs within the blocks.
- Keep your grid clean. Use even spacing between each content block. Having white space or padding between each section on the screen will help keep a cleaner and more modern look to your pages and allow users to find things easier. A little bit of organization goes a long way.
- Don’t forget about mobile users. If you are creating a mobile app then this one is obvious but if its a website or web app this might not seem as important. Focus on creating an easy to use mobile site and make it just as important as your desktop browser version.
- Keep your wireframes concise and clean. Wireframes are just meant to show the basics of the design, not the complex details and parts, so keep it simple and don’t over complicate it.
One thing to remember is that wireframes are just the beginning steps to prototype creation, so don’t overinvest in them and over complicate the process. The best wireframes are ones that simply convey the messages and goals of the pages by stripping it down to its essential components of simple design.
What are the Different Types of Wireframes?
There are three main types of wireframes: Low-fidelity, mid-fidelity, and high-fidelity. The difference between the different levels of fidelity is the amount of detail they contain and their level of complexity.
- Low-Fidelity Wireframes: These are basic visual representations that serve only as a rough starting point for the design. Usually these are hand drawn sketches that lack spacing or complex images but rather show what basic elements are to be included such as the main content, headers, and section blocks.
- Mid-Fidelity Wireframes: this tier usually comes with more accurate representations of the layout and design. While it still wont include elements such as text and final graphics and images, it will be able to clearly show their placements and positions on pages. At this level the design also usually moves digital to a design platform such as Adobe XD or another design software. Different shades of color may be used to show placement for titles and headings vs body text and image and graphic outlines will also be prevalent.
- High-Fidelity Wireframes: At this level the wireframes get much more complex, showing pixel specific layouts and spacing with exact sizes on an actual grid layout. They may also include actual images and written content that will be used on the actual website. This type of wireframe hoever is only used in the latter stages of the product design.
Wireframing is an essential step in the web design process and is necessary for creating a great user friendly experience for your digital product. Wireframes are one of the biggest steps in creating customer satisfaction as they are what they will see before anything. Be sure not to take this step lightly as it can be a huge task and take a lot of time to get your design just right, but remember nothing will be set in stone at this stage so let the process evolve and change as you move along.