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Website Wireframes And How To Use Them

An effective wireframe is essential in improving the navigation process and to enhance the user experience. A wireframe is vital in creating a plan that will guide the web developer in designing the navigation of the website and the connection between the different webpages.

When you start to create your website, you need to create a guide that will take you through the design process. A wireframe is like a backbone in webdesign to create a seamless navigation flow on the website.

Here is a guide on what a wireframe is all about, how to design one, and how to utilize it effectively.

Definition of a wireframe

A wireframe is an illustration that describes the structure and functionality of a user's flow. It simply shows the elements that the user interacts with, such as the menus, buttons, special features and dropdowns while navigating the website. A wireframe also presents a visual representation of the elements, structure, hierarchy, behavior, placement, and the navigation process.

The essence of a wireframe

It helps in identifying the elements that are in the site, features that neighbor one another, and how they are connected. Without a wireframe, the web design process would be next to impossible. A wireframe is essential in giving the web designer the option to compare different web designs. The wireframes also provide a better web design plan, rather than the written ideas as they more easy to understand in a visual context. Therefore, a wireframe will help your designers and developers understand exactly what you wish your site to look like.

Types of wireframes

Wireframes are your blueprint of the webdesign process. You will gain a better understanding of your product, you can gradually implement more features to the wireframes, building them up from all different buyer persona perspectives as you move from one stage to the next.

Low fidelity wireframes

A quick sketsch on a piece of paper followed by a brainstorm on a whiteboard is a good start of the process. These quick sketches will already clarify what the rough structure of your website should look like and will give you a first insight on the complexity. Seeing which pages connect to each other will help you to see the scale of the project

How to create website wireframes

High fidelity wireframes

A high fidelity wireframe portrays the complete life cycle of the flow throughout the website. This frame incorporates various levels of user interaction with the elements and the cases that the user may find themselves in, such as errors, empty states, first-time users, and returning users. This will show you the real complexity of the website and will highlight possible pain points for your users.

Website Wireframes And How To Use Them

Interactive prototype

The interactive prototype acts as the live version of the wireframe. It brings the web design into life, giving a full flow of the design, alongside real content and actual elements. The prototypes range from elaborate mockups to UX prototypes, created with code that indeed behaves and feels like actual product.

10 tips to consider when creating a wireframe

1. Do not skip the wireframing phase

Wireframes are essential in improving the web design process because they help identify the issues related to the user experience in advance. This is the moment that shapes the user experience of your finished product.

2. Wireframes should not describe the UI

Wireframes are only drafts of the real user interface, but they are not the actual product. They should keep content basic without delving too much into the UI design. Also, use one generic font with different text sizes to illustrate the hierarchy in the UI.

3. The final product will look different from the wireframe

The structure and functionality of the wireframe is basic and rough, it will be nowhere near the finished product. No need to make it pixel perfect with the right colors and call to action copy.

4. Make iterations for the low fidelity wireframe

During the low fidelity stage, keep your options open as you will develop a better understanding during of the design process of the course a user might follow on your website. This is the time to try out stuff and make mistakes. It is still a phase where it is easy to sketch, erase and create something improved. Keep on building and trying different routes until you are convinced it will be the best way to go from a user perspective.

5. Finalize your most important content early

Knowing how big your text fields will be can be very helpful in the early stage of your wireframe design. it will help you estimate how big certain text fields need to be. But no worries, you can still use 'lorem ipsum' text to keep people from being distracted with the content.

6. Clarify user flow

Use the wireframe to illustrate the story of your product with the user in mind. Indicate what the next step is for the user and how exactly they will get there. Also, avoid dead ends in the flow. Always refer to something important on your website without creating a distraction.

7. Organized frames along the wire

Name each screen or page in a way that it makes sense to you. Use a name that describes the actions in the screen or the specific state that the user may find themselves in, such as ‘Login-Incorrect Password,’ or ‘Your Cart - One Item.’

8. Use a dummy images or full color panel

Keep out the distraction. You may want to use simple draft-level icons to convey your intended meaning. Also, you may select some images to represent your design process.

9. Observe hierarchy

Ensure that you put sufficient space, sizes, and layout to identify the level of priority of the various items on the site. Highlight the most crucial message or features and indicate how the users will get to features easily.

10. Be consistent

Ensure that the elements in the various screens look the same. For example, if a button is represented using a circle in one screen, ensure that a similar circle is used in the next screen to avoid confusion.

And finally, do not start to work on the UI before you get a fully functional wireframe to display the full life cycle of the navigation process throughout the site.

We hope that this wireframe guide will help you during your webdesign process. Do not hesitate to contact our team if you have any questions.

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