June 29, 2018

Understanding Wireframes: 5 Reasons Why Wireframes Matter

E-dreamz begins each of our website design and development projects with a dedicated planning and definition phase that includes the preparation of a full wireframe document for the new website. Often, our clients struggle to grasp the purpose of the wireframe and provide useful feedback. Here’s what a wireframe is all about and five reasons why it’s critical to the overall custom web design and development process.

What is a Wireframe?

A wireframe is a relatively simple blueprint of the overall navigation, page types, content types, templates, features and functions of your site. It is a black-and-white outline of your entire website architecture. It illustrates the structure and foundation of your website.

Why are Wireframes Important?


1. Wireframes Allow You to Focus on the Functionality of Your Site Without Getting Distracted by Design or Specific Content
The primary reason we develop wireframes before going into the design phase is so that we can think through the layout, navigation and functions of the site without getting hung up on style, layout or design. The goal of the wireframing exercise is to detail all types of content that need to be on the site, what supporting tools need to be developed to manage and present that content, and what points of interaction need to be developed for users of the site. The wireframe allows us to focus on these foundational aspects without getting hung up on things like colors, style or imagery.

2. The Wireframe is Easy to Alter
One of the key advantages of starting with a wireframe is that it is the simplest form of website planning. It is much faster and easier to make substantial changes or revisions to a wireframe than it is to make those same changes in a design mock-up or a developed website. The wireframe allows us to walk through the website with our client and move around pieces, pages or entire sections as needed without dumping countless hours into revising design mock-ups or completely coded applications.

3. The Wireframe Provides Direction for the Design Process
Website design, like any form of design, is quite subjective. It can be difficult to find a starting point that gets us the appropriate guidance and feedback we need in order for our designers to provide a look and feel that matches with our client’s vision for their site. Working through the wireframe process always discovers a certain amount of design direction that helps jump-start the design process and get our initial mock-ups moving in the right direction.

4. The Wireframe is the Build Guide for Our Programmers

One of the often overlooked aspects of the wireframe is its inclusion of programmer-focused notation that serves as an engineering guide for back-end controls, CMS features and requirements, or integrations with other systems or data sources. This type of information can be difficult to follow in a process flow and is all-but-hidden in design mock-ups. Our developers use the wireframe hand-in-hand with approved designs to build out the website with the appropriate front-end look and feel as well as the necessary administrative or integration tools to manage the content on the site.

5. The Wireframe Bolsters All Other Phases of the Project
In short, the wireframe makes everything else easier. The design process is more informed and structured. The build phase is clearly defined. It provides a guide to follow for content creation. And it helps avoid making costly revisions at the end of the process that can impact project cost, scope and timeline. If we do a good job with the wireframe, then the rest of the project will go smoothly - on budget, on time, and with satisfactory results.
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By: TR Williams

Director of Project Management