“Wait, what? Now we’re talking about the designer’s eyeglasses?”
No, a wireframe isn’t some needless jargon to slow down a business owner who just wants to get on with a great website design. It’s helpful to liken the wireframes to a builder's blueprints. Wireframes show all the rooms, and the placement of the functional, working parts in the house, without the overlay of interior design. With its grayscale pages filled with boxes and placeholder text, the wireframe sets the stage for the best outcomes during that more colorful design stage that most clients want to jump right into.
Yes, wireframing constitutes an extra step. Yet shortcutting around the wireframe phase will make later work costlier. Revising a carefully designed mockup undoes a lot more work than modifying the wireframe. Wireframes supply an early opportunity for client feedback and lie at the intersection where the marketing and business goals meet.
Wireframe is Getting Everyone on the Same Page
The wireframing stage is the early opportunity to get everyone involved on the same page, investing in a company’s capacity to become an online powerhouse.
The success of the website is often contingent upon how well the user flows meet the needs of the target audience (personas), as well as the needs of the business. Because wireframes lack visual detail, the user flows are the heart of the prototype. Unadorned templates offer the client an excellent way to focus on key aspects of a website's pages, creating the smoothest flows for users to accomplish their goals.
For the engineer, wireframing will help pinpoint flaws in the site architecture, or highlight how a specific feature should work.
A well-made wireframe will also show how the site will expand over time. A company might offer a dozen choices today, a hundred next year.
Wireframes both ensure and illustrate your site’s structural capacity for growing while respecting the integrity of the information architecture, the website design, and the user's experience.
The User Persona
Wireframes make the user’s experience central. They offer an objective look at the way a website will work, and how the visitor will navigate it. They anticipate and guide the evolution of the website visitor - from a prospect into a customer. Wireframes prepare the website to grow along with its userbase.
In wireframing, the UX designer works with the site’s model users in mind. Users have certain traits in common which brings them to your site. They have goals, motivations, and challenges, or pain points. We examine how this user persona will experience your offerings now, and how the user could experience them, optimally. This means removing obstacles and making the navigation an intuitive, satisfying experience.
Desktop, tablet, and smartphone use can all be anticipated through wireframing. So, mapping the user journey also means anticipating the devices used for interacting with the business, and what problems or advantages users might experience with these devices. It means anticipating how you’re going to make them feel—both in the use of the site, and in the service or product.
Lead-Generation: Hallmark of Great Web Design
Anyone interacting with your site comes as a visitor first.
Your ideal visitor can be converted by great website design into a customer. This is lead generation.
What’s a wireframe got to do with it? Just imagine your website in grayscale. No design flourishes, no elegant fonts. Would a viewer know how to interact with your site? The simplicity of a wireframe can highlight the features most likely to distract or slow users down. Wireframing helps eliminate those hurdles in advance, and guides a site design that's both attractive and easily navigated.
Great web design has the power to bring someone who’s heard of your site (perhaps through a useful blog post) over to a genuine interest in your offerings. Your content and “about” page engender confidence. Through your contact page, or by registering for what you offer, the visitor acts on your message. Your thanks goes out to the user. A relationship begins. And it started with a wireframe.