Webpage wireframe – what is it and why should your product have one?
The product development process is always incredible. No matter what you wish to develop, the process should deliver maximum usability of your product to a specific target group. However, starting from the so-called “scratch”, many elements may not be clear. We sometimes get asked if we can start designing UI right away. Nevertheless, below I’m giving some reasons why stopping at the wireframe stage is worth it.
Webpage wireframe – what is it?
Let’s start off, however, by defining what a wireframe actually is.
Wireframe is mainly meant to show the page structure, layout, information architecture or illustrate user flow. They often depict a concept. Their style and composition are limited to the most basic colors (white and black). They can be created either as a drawing on a piece of paper or with more sophisticated programs like Moqups, Invision or Figma.
However, we need to emphasize that we encounter many names of wireframes at work. Clients or partners very often use the following terms interchangeably: mock-ups, prototypes or interactive design. For the purposes of this article, however, let’s narrow down to the term wireframe itself.
In our work, we tend to present wireframes in two simple categories:
Low fidelity Wireframe made in balsamiq
- Low fidelity. They are often produced at the workshop with the client during the so-called sketch prototyping process. The main rule does not aim to create perfect, detailed mock-ups, but to sketch the screens, which show the idea of business, product or service… The materials created this way are mainly useful for conducting discussions. Through the schematic depiction of the views, it is possible to establish a dialogue with our client and learn his point of view.
- High fidelity. These mock-ups are very much like design itself. I would describe them as “grey blocks”. They should preferably come in black and white colors. A good practice is to mark clickable elements with a distinctive color, e.g. heavy blue, to make it clear that this element is going to be a link – depicting user flow and user paths.
Why is it worth creating a wireframe?
- A moment to contemplate how we want to organize the content
A common mistake I observe is creating a wireframe and content layout and creating a nice UI simultaneously. There are very few specialists who know how to organize content and, at the same time, make it look good. Splitting the stage into a moment when we organize the content and into a moment when we make everything look “nice” is extremely effective.
Wireframe supports depiction of content. When the sections have been organized, we can send views to be discussed in each department. It is very likely that such consultations reveal that there are subjects for internal discussion in particular departments. This is the moment when the team can deliberate on the content of the offer together, for example.
- A moment for copywriting
The content of the website affects the design. Once we know that the offer will include more than 3-4 services – the layout shall be completely different. A well-fitted text, which can be created on the basis of our mock-ups, will also affect the design. For example, it is always better to choose an icon that matches the content than a common one, completely unrelated to the text.
- User Flow validation
A lot of team members lack the spatial awareness necessary to imagine where each screen goes. When discussing User Flow or architecture it’s hard for them to imagine what it might look like in practice. Mock-ups represent the very first moment when they see the result of our efforts. The clickable mock-ups let us reflect the complete User Flow, which is the actual switch from one screen to another. Having a wireframe, we can literally click through the uncoded website. This is when the missing states of bugs, screens and connections between the created elements become evident. Moreover, we happened to test the whole business concept based on mock-ups and change it entirely. From the client’s perspective – despite the fact that the research work has been significantly extended, the client saved hundreds of thousands of PLN for the development of the application, that nobody would use.
- Easier estimation of programming
A completed application, or to be more precise, a draft of it, makes it much easier for programming teams to estimate their work. Furthermore, they can now plan their tasks and start e.g. the backend part. As soon as the Style Guide is ready, they can start working immediately. From the client’s perspective, this is an enormous saving of time and money for potential future changes.
- Improved mood board and styles for the user
Once the mock-ups are ready and we wait for the review of the content, we can easily start working on a mood board or a style. This is nothing but the style used to create a new product or service. This is the moment when we can focus solely on searching for inspirations in order to achieve an outstanding design. Moreover, after discussing the webpage wireframe it’s much easier to pick the right graphic style, since we already know, more or less, what the website is going to look like. We also don’t need to worry about organizing the content anymore.
- A more enjoyable designing process
Once we have settled all the details about the content. Designing truly is a more enjoyable experience. By fully understanding the needs, we reduce the number of fixes. Usually this process goes fast. For sophisticated systems, all it takes sometimes is a Style Guide for developers to cope with the implementation.
It may seem that the additional stage at which we arrange the “grey blocks” is superfluous. In practice, however, we realize that for the person who creates the product, it can turn out to be a breakthrough. This is where we can identify what is missing in our process. We are also able to validate the concept of our application and thus save a lot of money.
If you need to create mock-ups for your product, send us a message 😉
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