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Wireframing Do’s and Don’ts Every Web Designer Should Know!

Will users stick around a website if they can’t navigate it easily? They won’t, at least not for long. Web designers know this. They also know that the information on a website must be properly structured for it to make sense.

And this is why wireframing is considered an important part of web design. In this post, we will discuss why wireframes are equally as important in web design and how they can solve some of the biggest challenges of web design.

What Are Wireframes?

Basically, wireframes are black and white layouts that specify the placement and size of different elements of a web page. These can be conversion areas, site features and navigational elements.

Here is a basic wireframe –

Wireframes
Source: york.ac.uk

Wireframes are devoid of any design or creative elements. Their purpose is to give web designers a bird’s eye view of a website’s structure. They also help web designers –

  • Plan layouts according to how they want users to process the information on a website
  • Plan how users interact with interfaces

Why Is Wireframing Important?

Wireframing also ensures that web designers and clients remain on the same page with regards to a website’s structure. It determines how a website is supposed to look and function. Do it right and you can create a website that users will want to visit. Do it wrong, and you risk hundreds of hours to fix any mistakes later on.

Wireframing Web For Success

How can web designers make the most of wireframes and what should they avoid? Let’s find out.

Don’t Overcomplicate The Design

According to the commandments of user interface design, form should follow function and wireframing should follow the same concept. In this case, the form is the design process. Keep details to a minimum. Too many typographic details or information on a page only confuses users.

Do Keep It Simple

Do Keep it Simple
Source: blog.hotgloo.com

Wireframing determines a website’s functionality, its content structure and behavior. It only lets you know what a UI might look like after it is implemented. Take it easy on the colors and typographic style. You can always fill in the empty spaces later.

Don’t Ignore Content Organization

Content Organization
Source: mycrowd.com

Wireframes do let you know where your content will go; but they don’t tell you what the content will look like once it is displayed. Relying on Lorem Ipsum is a mistake since the template often gives a false impression on how your content will look like on screen.

Do Prioritize Content Hierarchy

Prioritize Content Hierarchy
Source: speckyboy.com

When it comes to web design, content hierarchy is crucial in giving users exactly what they are looking for. During the wireframing process, answer questions that your audience considers important. What will they need to know? For example, in the case of mobile users, ask yourself what they will look for once they visit your website on their cellphones. Mobile users prefer content to be responsive and accessible. In this case, your wireframes should display relevant information upfront and hide the rest.

Don’t Ignore Testing

If you want to pull off a perfect website design, you can’t launch it without testing it first. Wireframes must be tested before they are launched as well. There is no telling if the final mockup will function as well as you think. It is also important to remember that testing and redesigning a wireframe is easy. Changing a website that is fully designed is not.

Do Test Often

Web designers know that you can’t always make decisions by looking at a skeleton layout. Sometimes, you need to see your handiwork onsite. Testing the design at intervals is a good idea. It helps web designers –

  • Explore different user experiences and identify or develop those that seem promising
  • Spot key issues during the design process

Don’t Prefer Style Over Functionality

Wireframes define a website’s substance. Unfortunately, some web designers tend to ignore this fact and let their personal style get in the way. Web designers who add color to wireframes are a case in point. How can color interfere with a wireframe’s purpose? When you add color to a wireframe, you mix its function with a graphic mockup. This makes it harder to define the wireframe’s visual clarity.

Do Opt For Visual Clarity

Visual clarity must always take precedence in a wireframe. Keep in mind, a wireframe is meant to show the functionality of a website, not its style. Therefore, graphical details have no place in it. Keep a wireframe as simple as possible. A wireframe that only focuses on how a website will work gives stakeholders a better idea of its functionality as well.

Look at how clear the information on this wireframe is –

Visual Clarity
Source: uxmatters.com

Don’t Ignore Responsiveness

The world is changing how it uses the web and web designers need to keep up with this change. Growing preferences for mobile friendly web access is one of these changes. If web designers plan to keep up, they must focus on designing wireframes for mobile as well. Statistics also show that people prefer to browse the web on mobile devices.

Web Design Biggest Challenges

Do Make It Responsive

Responsive
Source: kinchstudio.com

Mobile first web accessibility is a reality and is here to stay. And web designers need to keep up with this trend. The websites of today need to be responsive for mobile use and not only for desktops.

And this is exactly mobile wireframes need to be a part of the design process.

These designs don’t have to be flawless. But web designers do need to ensure that their content, layouts and pages fit the devices that they might be viewed on. Other details might include zoom functionality and annotations.

Don’t Give It Too Much Time

It doesn’t do to spend too much time wire framing and not much in the design aspect. The process is only meant to give web designers a visual roadmap to determine the informational hierarchy on a website.

Do Give It The Time That It Is Due

Don’t waste too much time on wireframing. But the process must still be thought out. It is important to remember that wireframes are meant to streamline web development. They bring clarity to a project and allow you to process any other requirements before a website is finalized. It pays to give ample time to the details in a wireframe especially since these details also give all stakeholders a clearer idea of what a website will look like.

Don’t Hide Too Much

When designing a wireframe, don’t hide too much of your content. Some web designers tend to hide their content in internal pages. They might only show a homepage and require visitors to click through other pages to find relevant information. Practices like these might annoy visitors once the website is complete. Too much hidden content is also a red flag for SEO.

Do Focus On Relevant Content

Relevant Content
Source: linkdigital.com.au

A website that has highly relevant content in the forefront is a website that has a high conversion rate. If you ever get the chance to work with wider wireframes, do take advantage of the extra pixels. It can help you design a spot-on landing page that converts. It will also give you the chance to organize your content in different ways or add more relevant features.

Here is the original wireframe proposed for the Canberra Theatre Centre Homepage. Notice how it displays the most relevant information first.

Wireframing Is A Safety Net

Building a website is a process. Wireframing is an integral part of this process. It ensures that your designs are more calculated and spares you from hacks later on. Keeping the do’s and don’ts in mind can help you create websites that not only excel in design but functionality as well.

Author Bio:    

Evan is an expert in digital marketing and has run several successful marketing campaigns. He has been working in the social media space since 2008, with a focus on design services, user interface planning, branding and others in the graphic design industry.

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