There are several steps involved in building a well optimised and visually appealing website, while one of the first being wireframes. Wireframes provide the foundation of your site, mapping out overall structure, hierarchy, and expected user flow from which design elements are later added, and development follows. While some suggest that wireframes are time consuming, by undertaking this important step you’re able to get a clear picture of exactly what key elements will be included in your site and how users will navigate it, rather than trying to revisit this after development is complete.
Wireframes are the base design for websites and help businesses to plan out not only what their websites pages will look like, but how they will operate from a user perspective. There are different iterations of wireframes that can be utilised, with the type of wireframe dependent on time constraints and requirements. The first type is known as low fidelity wireframes; these showcase a more general overview of where elements will be placed on a page and are usually sketched out. This wireframe is then built on to create medium fidelity wireframes which show more detail such as headlines and buttons using a wireframing tool. The final step is the high fidelity wireframe, which closely resembles the final design of the website. It is always recommended to start with a low fidelity option to help ensure any unnecessary parts of a website can be removed early in the planning process.
Once the sketches and the high fidelity wireframe are complete, mockups can then be prepared which includes interactive or stationary graphical elements allowing for a business to test the website’s usability and see it’s functionality first hand.
The Benefits of Wireframes
1. Reduction of Potential UX Issues
There’s nothing worse than building a website and then finding out something isn’t working correctly or the layout isn’t matching expectations. The use of wireframes can help to alleviate this issue. Not only does it provide an overview of the website’s layout, it provides insight into a typical customer’s path through the pages. This can help to proactively determine any potential problems with the functionality before any coding or building has begun.
2. Goal Oriented Design
One of the first steps when planning the layout of your webpage is to establish the goal of the website and any specific conversion points. Website hierarchy is important as it will highlight which few pages are the main focus for your website and ensure these are clearly visible when a user arrives at the website. On individual website pages the objective is then to structure the page to naturally push the user’s attention towards a conversion goal by reducing distracting design elements such as bright colours, unnecessary buttons or large amounts of visual media. Through the use of both the low and high fidelity wireframes, you’re able to see the final proposed design and layout to ensure a goal oriented design is achieved.
3. Streamline User Steps
Streamlining should be the goal for any website, not only can reducing unnecessary elements make for a better UX experience but it can also aid with the performance of the website. The best way to streamline is to review the key areas of the website. By determining which areas need to be focused on, any unnecessary pages (and therefore clicks) can be removed. The same plan should also be utilised on the individual pages to allow for an optimal design to be achieved.
4. Responsive Website Layout
With the growth of smartphones over the last 15 years and increased prominence of tablets, websites need to be able to adapt their layout and ensure usability is still viable regardless of how it is being viewed. Wireframes help determine which key page elements need to be visible to users regardless of whether they are viewing a website on a desktop, tablet or mobile device.
When it comes to website design, planning is crucial. Wireframes are the perfect starting point to plan an enhanced web experience for your visitors. They minimise potentially costly errors and guarantee that best possible website design is achieved. For help with your next web project, contact the web development specialists at Redline Digital.