Wireframes are blueprints for a website and help with building more responsive websites. If you’ve got more time and want to know more about wireframes, why they’re important, and how you can use them to create responsive websites, we’ve got a wealth of information coming your way.
UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) are critical components that determine how users respond to your website. You don’t have long to make a good first impression either. It takes a user 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to decide if they like your website enough to stay and browse. The visual appeal, user interface, and responsive nature of your website will help you retain and convert more users.
One of the first steps to creating a good website? Wireframes.
What are wireframes?
Wireframes are blueprints for your website. Think of it as the foundational structure of your website’s design. It shows how the elements on each page will be spaced, where the content will be placed, the primary CTAs, and other vital aspects.
Web designers use different types of tools to build their lo-fi (low fidelity) wireframes. Some from to sketch it out on paper, others use tools like Balsamiq, Proto.io, and wireframe.cc. At Brucira, we use the old-school way and sketch out our wireframes manually.
Wireframes don’t have any visual elements like fonts, colour, graphics etc. They connect information from the Information Architecture to different pathways throughout the website, helping designers map out user journeys and page functionalities.
Why are wireframes important?
Without a structure in place, it can be challenging to build any website well. Wireframes serve as the first step to building a well-designed website that considers business requirements and user needs.
1. Better functionality
When you start with wireframes, it’s easier for designers to map out the right functionality and pathways across the website as a whole. Changing placements and reworking elements in a hi-fi (high-fidelity) mockup or prototype is costlier and more time-consuming.
Understanding user needs to improve user experience and user interface will help designers and developers reduce the back and forth during the review stage.
2. Understand client requirements
Creating wireframes is a great way to properly understand what the client wants to get out of their website. The simple layout of wireframes eliminates distractions about colour, size, font, graphics, and other elements, allowing the client to focus on giving you precise instructions about what the website needs. Wireframes don’t contain a lot of detail, so it’s the perfect time to gather that data from the client and conduct independent research.
Sharing wireframes with clients will also help you gain more information about user behaviour, manage expectations, and learn how the client works. This is the first stage, so setting the tone for deliverables, review, and feedback will help you as the project progresses.
3. Early review = fewer revisions
Inviting the client to review the website’s wireframes allows them to share precise visual feedback about what they want. This will help designers prioritize the right content, build clear hierarchies, and improve the user experience right from the get-go. Designers can note pace constraints and gather feedback from stakeholders about what needs to be highlighted in the website design.
4. Responsive websites
Wireframes provide clarity of thought and a deeper understanding of how the website needs to function. It’s an important tool to communicate with different teams and team members, helping you build more responsive websites.
Wireframes for mobile-first websites will help developers understand how to code the elements optimally across different device sizes. Figuring out layout and navigation needs against screen size differences early on can help designers and developers work together to build more responsive websites.
Wireframes ≠ Prototypes
Don’t get confused between wireframes and prototypes. Though they serve similar functions, they come at different stages of the web design process. Wireframes are blueprints or sketches; prototypes are the closest versions to the finished product, without the code. Prototypes are more interactive and include all the visual elements of a final product. They’re often used as a way to test the product before launch and to fix any issues.
Done with wireframes, what’s next?
Once the client has approved your wireframes, you can start building the hi-fi versions of the website. Remember to ask for feedback at every stage to avoid revisions as the website gets closer to its finished version.
Once your website has been coded and is on the staging link, you can invite clients and other stakeholders to review it on ruttl. Seeing how the wireframes set the base of the entire website will help your client understand the importance of wireframing in the website design.
Do you need to make edits to the website when it’s almost ready but don’t want to involve the developer until you confirm the client’s changes? ruttl allows you to make edits to live websites, allowing designers to change website elements without coding knowledge.
Take your web design process to the next level with ruttl. Try it out for yourself at ruttl.com.