wireframing

What Is Wireframing? Wireframing In A Nutshell

Wireframing involves the creation of a blueprint or schematic that helps designers and programmers think about the structure of an app or website. Wireframing, therefore, is the process of creating a two-dimensional outline of an app or website.

Understanding wireframing

These outlines are called wireframes and provide an overview of user flow, information architecture, functionality, and page structure or layout. Since many wireframes represent an initial concept, other elements such as color, graphics, and styling feature less prominently.

Wireframes can be created digitally or simply drawn by hand. They are used to foster stakeholder consensus before the interface is sent to the developers to be built out.

Five reasons to incorporate wireframing

Wireframing is an important part of the design process and should not be overlooked or rushed. Consider these seven reasons for incorporating the approach:

Visual architecture representation

Wireframing is often the first point at which the project is represented visually. They also improve on the somewhat abstract nature of a flowchart with something more tangible.

Feature clarification

Wireframing also communicates concepts or ideas that some stakeholders may not understand in a theoretical sense. In other words, the process stipulates how certain features will function, where they will reside, and their utility.

Scalability potential

A wireframe can also be implemented to ensure a website can cope with content growth. For example, a company that plans to increase its product offering from 50 to 200 will want a website that can accommodate this increase without impacting usability or site architecture.

Time and cost-saving

The process of wireframing saves time since the development team has a better grasp on what it is building. There is also increased clarity around content creation. Wireframes themselves are quick and inexpensive to produce, allowing the company to identify user pain points for relatively little expenditure.

Iteration

Some businesses make the mistake of trying to combine the functionality and layout of their website with more creative or brand-related aspects in one step. However, wireframing is an iterative process where aspects are considered one at a time. This allows the client to provide feedback earlier and avoid costly fixes later.

Three different types of wireframes

There are three main types of wireframes.

Low-fidelity  

These serve as the starting point of a design and as a result, feature simple visual representations that are created without a scale or sense of pixel accuracy. They tend to be primitive and exclude details that could serve as a distraction. 

Low-fidelity wireframes can be used in situations where there are multiple product concepts and the designer needs to know which one to pursue.

Mid-fidelity 

Mid-fidelity wireframes depict a more accurate representation of an app or website and are one of the most commonly used. 

They feature components with more detail that allow them to be differentiated from one another, but they still omit potentially distracting elements. For example, various shades of black and white may be utilized to provide visual prominence between specific elements. 

These wireframes tend to be created using a digital tool such as Balsamiq or Sketch.

High-fidelity

High-fidelity wireframes incorporate detailed, pixel-specific layouts, written content, and imagery. This makes them well suited to more complex projects such as interactive maps or menu systems.

As a result, high-fidelity wireframes are used in the final stages of the product design lifecycle. 

Key takeaways:

  • Wireframing is the process of creating a two-dimensional outline of an app or website.
  • Wireframing is an important part of the design process and should be rushed, overlooked, or combined with other processes. There are many reasons to incorporate the process, including visual architecture representation, time and cost savings, scalability potential, and feature clarification.
  • Wireframing incorporates three wireframe types: low-fidelity, mid-fidelity, and high-fidelity. Each is associated with a particular level of detail and stage in the product lifecycle. 

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