You wouldn’t build a house without laying the foundations first, so why would you build a website without wireframes? Outlining the basic structure of your site, wireframes are a crucial step in the web design process that shouldn’t be overlooked – no matter how tempting it may be to dive straight in!
Wireframes are an integral part of what we do here at Tangent Digital Agency. But, before we get into why wireframes are important, let’s take a closer look at what they are.
What is a wireframe?
Essentially, a wireframe is a simple monotone layout that outlines how a page should look. Like a skeleton, it’s the bare bones of your site’s structure. Wireframes depict where page elements should be placed, what the size and spacing should be, what features should be included on the page, where the navigation will sit, and so on.
Devoid of any design elements like color and fonts, wireframes place emphasis on the structure and the structure alone. If you don’t have a solid structure in place, your designs don’t stand a chance.
Imagine if you designed the interior of your house before the foundations – it wouldn’t make any sense. How would you know where the plumbing is or the electricity? It’s important to nail down the basics before you move onto anything else.
With that in mind, here are some of the key reasons why wireframes are important when it comes to designing a website.
Ensure good user experience
By highlighting the basic functionality of your website, wireframes bring user experience to the forefront. Designers can ensure the core structure of the site is user-friendly, before adding more colorful design elements. Wireframes can quickly uncover flaws in your site’s architecture and functionality, which can be amended early on in the design process.
Test site navigation
A crucial element of good user experience is navigation, which wireframes allows you to test and streamline. By outlining the structure of the website, clients can clearly see how a user would find their way about. If the process is too complicated or there is something missing, the design can be modified.
Make changes easily
Speaking of, another reason why wireframes are important is they can be easily reviewed and changed. Seeing the website stripped down allows the focus to be on what users need before development has actually started, which is much more efficient than having to change the code once it’s been implemented.
Draw focus where it’s needed
Wireframes are a great way to focus your client’s attention on what matters. It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of building a website and forget the importance of doing the groundwork. The simplicity of wireframes helps you to guide clients through your designs without getting distracted.
Clarify website features
It can be easy to use jargon when discussing web design and forget that not everyone will know what you mean. Clients may not understand what a “hero image” or an “accordion” is, for instance, so a wireframe can help you clearly communicate what each feature is and where it will sit on the page. This also gives the client a chance to change their mind about certain features once they see them in action.
Identify required content
Wireframes also make it easier to identify which content is required on each page. By visualizing what the final product will be, you can work on creating content that not only physically fits on the page, but works with the design in mind. Wireframes eliminate bottlenecks, as content creators can get on with their work in tandem with designers, rather than having to wait for something concrete.
With content in mind, wireframes are useful for ensuring your site will be able to handle growth. You want to be able to add more content to the site over time without having a negative impact on its architecture or usability. Wireframes can nail down the hierarchy of your site and streamline the process of adding more content, such as new pages, in future.
Possibly one of the biggest reasons why wireframes are important is they save time in the long-run. While it may seem more arduous to put them together initially, that extra effort pays dividends throughout the project lifecycle. Not only will your designs be more calculated, content creation becomes much easier and you can avoid having to make drastic changes further down the line.
Wireframes are a fundamental stage of the web design process. By laying the foundations of your site, you can look objectively at aspects like user experience and functionality, before adding more stylised features. Wireframes also help to ensure you and your client are on the same page throughout the process and can easily make changes to the design without impacting progress.