What is a wireframe? Part 1: Overview

All successful web design projects have one thing in common: collaboration. Not least among the specialists who design, develop, test and manage the project, but crucially between the client and the designer.

One of the earliest collaboration opportunities in the web design process is during the wireframe stage. While it may be tempting to skip this step and launch straight into the design, this would be like building a house without a floorplan.

Wireframing is a crucial first step and contributes greatly to the success, cost and timely completion of the design.

What is a wireframe?

A website wireframe is a screen blueprint used to map the framework of a website. Typically, it has a simple black and white grid layout that shows the size and placement of page elements, site features and navigation. It is also interactive to give you a visual representation of the user interface.

Wireframes are intentionally minimalist in look and feel. They are often devoid in colour, imagery, typography, and even the company logo. This is done deliberately so you focus purely on the layout, navigation and function of the website. It also makes it clear that this is not the final design, that no code has been written yet, and that everything is up for negotiation.

Why are wireframes so important in web design?

One of the biggest benefits of wireframing is it makes sure everyone is on the same page. Wireframes provide the first collaborative opportunity between the client and web designers to examine and discuss how users will interact and navigate through the site. And even more crucially, any design changes required at this stage can be rapidly reworked at little cost.

Other reasons why wireframes are important in web design:

  • They push usability to the forefront by getting you to look objectively at the website’s ease of use, conversion paths, naming of links, navigation and feature placement.
  • They give clients the opportunity to provide critical feedback from the outset, prior to undertaking any design work.
  • They save time on the entire project as it provides clear communication between the client and all those involved in the site’s development.

What about Mockups vs Wireframes?

There is often confusion if and how wireframes differ from mockups. In part two of our blog series on What is a wireframe? we explore this very topic. So, stay tuned to the iFactory blog or our Facebook page or LinkedIn profile.

At iFactory, our team uses wireframes as the foundation of all our web designs. To find out more about our web design process or to find out how a stylish and intuitive website could drive your business further, contact our team today on 07 3844 0877.

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