Wireframes are an essential part of the web design process, serving as a blueprint for the front-end development of a website. They provide a visual representation of the layout, functionality, and content of a website, and are used to communicate design ideas to stakeholders, developers, and other team members. In this article, we will explore the key elements of front-end wireframes, and discuss the benefits and best practices for creating effective wireframes for your next web project.
About Front End Wireframes
If you have a business, you need a website. Customers begin judging a business and its website as soon as they find it. Maybe the website is completely new. Maybe you’re redesigning an existing site. Regardless, you know you’ll be designing, building, and launching something new. As you embark on the journey to building your new website, the right planning and process can save you tremendous time and money. And if you’re committed to creating a website to help your business, the most valuable part of a web design process is wireframes.
Websites can be incredibly flexible. The opportunity to find creative, unique solutions and experiences on the web can be exciting but also overwhelming. Where do you start when you want to create a website? There’s so much to think about when building a website. From how a user navigates from page to page and element to element.
That flexible complexity of the design and use offers so many opportunities for failure in design. And while having a website is compulsory for any business these days, well-designed websites stand out, help develop customer relationships, and build your business.
Poorly designed websites give customers an excuse to give their money to a competitor.
With the value of a well-designed site so clear, it stands to reason that the fundamentals of design and the help of qualified experts can pay-off in spades. When it comes to your business, if you plan to go cheap on your website, you might as well just go home.
The five milestones mentioned above are important but it leaves out the necessary attention to the design step. Wireframing is found in the design stage, which is a make-or-break milestone for any website. Wireframes align the website owner, designer, and development team on what will be built, how, and why.
The Importance of Front End Wireframes
Without the agreement and clarity of wireframes, there will always be a gap between what was intended and what was created. Even a great idea for a website can fail if the team building the website isn’t aligned around a clear and comprehensive plan. And that’s exactly the function of a wireframe. Not only do you have to plan accordingly, but you have to make sure you’re following guidelines you may have not thought about earlier.
Wireframes give structure, guidance, vision, and purpose to the designer and architect. They ensure that everyone knows where and why each part of the site exists and how the parts work together. Skipping this crucial process step can leave everyone involved feeling disconnected and lost. When people don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, it’ll cost you time, money, and sanity.
Let’s talk about what wireframes are, how they work, why they’re the backbone of website design.
Bad Web Design Equals Bad Experience
If you’re running an eCommerce site, users are often showing up to your online store with their wallets out. A bad experience on your site is like a negative interaction with a staff member in your storefront. Confusing layouts, poor navigation, and more can lead to a bad experience that sticks around.
In a recent study, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience and 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their site visit will go somewhere else to shop. So it’s clear that the majority of customers who don’t like a website will go somewhere else to spend their money. Yikes!
More often than not, companies skip the wireframes step as they deem it unnecessary and time-consuming. Had they invested in wireframes in the early stages of their website design, problems could have been identified: pages that were cluttered, page connections that looked like spilled spaghetti, and a lack of general organization or purpose.
How Do Wireframes Help?
So how would a wireframe help? If you Google “what’s a wireframe” you’ll come across countless articles all using the same metaphor. “Just like you have blueprints for a house you have wireframes for the construction of a website.” And the reason you’ll find that comparison almost everywhere is because it’s a solid description.
Wireframes layout in black and white where everything is, how they connect, and how they function. They function just like blueprints for a house and like blueprints, they’re best when designed by a knowledgeable, experienced, expert.
You wouldn’t want your painter drawing up the blueprints for your house. You’d want an architect.
The same goes for wireframes. Understanding how websites, code limitations, and user experience all play into designing a website. Add to that understanding what the owner wants to accomplish, with a set budget for build, design, and launch, and you have a very complicated but crucial part of your website design.
Skipping or skimping on wireframes is a surefire way to torpedo any web design project.
What Do Wireframes Accomplish?
OK, we got the how and why out of the way. Let’s talk about what a wireframe should accomplish.
A wireframe will define the pages and structure of your site. This framework will show everyone what all the pieces are. It will outline what is text, image, and action. Showing the design and build team every component and where to put it in relation to the other pieces.
Once all the pieces are identified, a wireframe will also show you how they work together. Identifying things like what happens when you click a button and where it takes the user. It will explain if a user sees a pop-up or a redirect. This crucial element is how the design and development team understands the user experience.
Once everyone knows what’s to be built and how they can assign the who to each part. Once people know their roles and responsibilities, they can provide accurate quotes for time, expense, and possible roadblocks.
From those three wireframe outcomes, the project can be fully realized for its scope. You’ll understand what your actual budget, timeline, and the finished product should resemble. You’ll understand how you’ll get there, who’ll contribute, and what they’ll each do.
That’s why skipping the wireframing step any website design process is such a risk. Without it, any design team, regardless of their qualifications or experience, will work without the guidance and alignment they need.
Ok, I hope I’ve finally sold you on the value of wireframes. So how do you acquire them?
If you’re embarking on a web design project and you don’t already have someone on staff who’s knowledgeable and experienced in building wireframes, I highly recommend you consider hiring someone who is. And let me explain why.
The person who creates a wireframe for a website can listen to all the goals, ambitions, and dreams of a website owner and translate those abstract ideas into a two-dimensional guide that manifests a vision into reality.
That’s heavy stuff and it takes a special person. The reasons you need a wireframe, all those opportunities for crossed wires and misunderstandings, are the same reason not just anyone can build them.
Qualities of a good wireframe designer:
- Translate non-tech into tech. They have to have listening skills to take what a website designer says they want and need and put that into a schematic and framework IT teams need to create that vision.
- Identify potential gaps and cliffs. This comes from experience. A good wireframe designer makes sure all loops and paths lead to the right places and that users are never led to an internet wasteland without a way back.
- Passion for user experience. They should have a vision for how all the parts create the user experience the website owner is trying to accomplish.
Remember, a bad wireframe will result in a bad design. Good wireframe designers are worth paying for. Find the best person you can to help you build your front end wireframes. It’s absolutely an investment.
Here at Atiba, web design is one of our specialties. We not only work with wireframes but all parts of the web design process. Reach out to us today for your project quote!