Whether a website is complex or straightforward, it’s essential to know how it’ll look and work before it goes live. Website owners and developers alike need to know that their site will deliver for visitors.
One way to do this is to create an in-depth interactive prototype of the website in its entirety, but this can be time-consuming and extremely costly. That’s why wireframes are such a valuable tool in a developer’s armory, providing a visual guide of a site’s skeletal framework and an easy way to test a design or layout for users.
In this handy guide, we’ll look at what exactly a wireframe is and the benefits it can offer.
Before making the most of the advantages a wireframe can provide, we must first understand what a wireframe is. Put simply; it’s a plan of the foundation upon which a website is built, and, just as in house building, the foundation is all-important.
A wireframe is a blueprint that shows you how a website will work, what it will look like, and what it will do. For that reason, it’s sometimes known as a screen blueprint or a page schematic.
The origins of these invaluable aids to website development can be traced back to Harvard in the 1980s, but modern technology has made them much easier to use. While wireframes can be created using pencil and paper, many design apps and programs simplify the process to make wireframe creation and sharing simple. AI technology also allows wireframes to perform automation testing, aiding in defect identification and therefore improving usability.
We know, then, that a wireframe is an initial schematic plan for a website, but what differentiates it from other forms of website planning? The answer to this also provides the key to their power and usefulness.
A well-designed wireframe is simple and, therefore, easy to understand. It doesn’t use colors or the images or texts that’ll be included on the functioning web pages, but it does show you where these elements will sit on the page and how they’ll link to other content. This can help a developer spot potential problems at an embryonic stage, so it works seamlessly with testing processes such as regression testing.
That’s just one of the advantages of a well-executed wireframe. Wireframes can also save both time and money by:
Advancing technology and software innovations are making websites more powerful and potentially more complex. That’s great news for developers, but it can make them harder to understand for the people who commission websites.
A wireframe makes it easy to understand a site’s layout and functions for whoever’s looking at it. Its uncluttered design means that you can see the elements that really matter and quickly understand how the finished site will look.
Free from distractions such as eye-catching graphics and intriguing copy, the viewer can gain a swift and accurate perception of the critical foundational elements of a web page.
The person or business who has commissioned a website will want it to look great and contain compelling copy to draw in visitors and boost sales. Initially, however, it’s even more critical that they know how the site’s overall layout will function.
A wireframe focuses purely on the prime elements of a site upon which other elements will ultimately be layered. This means that it allows businesses to decide which features are vital for functionality and the execution of their branding strategy. It also gives them the opportunity to add or remove elements at an early stage.
Time is money in business, a truism that becomes more relevant by the year. Developers may be working to tight deadlines, but that doesn’t mean they should skip the wireframe stage. In fact, creating a wireframe can help to streamline an already fully functional website.
The simplicity of wireframes and the ease with which even a tech amateur can understand them makes them a powerful tool for spotting errors or design flaws. A wireframe picks up usability and design flaws before everything is set in stone to save time and money and improve the user experience.
Wireframes also make team collaboration more straightforward, as every member of the team, whatever their role, can refer to these blueprints and ensure that their contribution to the website is seamless.
In a complex world, simplicity still has a part to play. Some businesses will be impatient to get their site live, but thorough planning is crucial to creating a user-friendly and smooth-running website.
In conjunction with a thorough qa outsource or in-house testing regime, wireframes lead to great-looking websites which are reliable for users and businesses. That’s why wireframes will be at the heart of website planning for the foreseeable future.