Wireframing Website Design for Better UX | iTexico
A wireframe is a great tool to ensure you're building the best website possible. Learn how to take advantage of a wireframe to enhance your UX.
The cardinal rule of creation is organization. You cannot create something lucid, helpful, and meaningful by haphazardly flinging numbers and hoping, by the good graces of the universe, that they somehow align. It’s the great pitfall, for creators both technical and creative, at the starting line of any project. No one really wants to labor through organization, but it’s the duty we must all do if we hope to accomplish something coherent.
Scripts need outlines, architecture needs blueprints, and websites need wireframes. Wireframes are the raw concept of a website, initially outlined to organize a website during its creation. While a wireframe doesn’t need to be a fully realized idea, nor is it expected to be, it provides an essential resource for your team: order.
Nothing well-made, at least within the website design theater, is born from chaos. Establishing a high-quality, in-depth wireframe from the start is highly important for creating a well-made site from the design phase. Every process is a series of steps making a path, and with wireframing you can ensure you’re taking all the right steps to creating a better UX.
What Is Wireframing?
In simple terms, a wireframe is the skeleton of your website, and everything else that fills it in will be constructed around it. A wireframe will be among the first things you make while building a website. It dictates what will be built, how it will be structured, and illustrate prioritized content, functionalities, and behaviors that your site will exhibit.
Keep in mind that, by necessity, wireframes are created in the earliest stages of building a website and are a representation of only the features of a website. When we say skeletal, we mean skeletal. No pretty graphs, no links, no words, nothing of the sort. Wireframes don’t need to include things like graphics, content or color, as they are meant to be representative of the features on the site. You get the bare minimum. Any more and you’re doing yourself a disservice. Rushing through this step of the process can end up with a final product that’s half-baked.
While the site is in its infancy, every feature needs to be explored while contextualizing what the user needs. Everything of importance should be included, and by the time you’ve constructed a thorough wireframe design there should be no major feature missing that a user could want.
Something of note is that wireframes come in two flavors: Low-Fidelity Wireframes and High-Fidelity Wireframes (Lo-Fi and Hi-Fi for short). The main difference between these two types of wireframe is primarily in how… advanced they are. In most website projects, you’ll end up making use of both kinds of wireframes.
Low-Fidelity (Lo-Fi) Wireframes
Lo-Fi wireframes are almost primitive in how they’re made. For starters, you don’t even need a computer to make one. All you need to sketch out a Lo-Fi wireframe is pen and paper. UX design dictates how a website will look, and the Lo-Fi approach is about as literal as you can get to designing what a website will look like.
You just draw it. Include as many elements as you can, then scrap what you’ve done and expand on it on another sheet. Nowadays, while these are historically done by the human hand, there are plenty of ways to digitally create the rough frameworks you’re looking for.
What’s important isn’t how pretty the Lo-Fi wireframe looks (cause, let’s be honest, sketching a landing page isn’t going to win any awards). The whole purpose of this type of quick design exercise is to develop a rough idea of what the page will look like. You’re free to organize any wanted features and determine a starting point. You’re projecting an image of what you’re creating.
This first look at your website is among the most critical steps in UX design. Everything will be based off here, before you get in too deep to easily rearrange code and layout later. This is your skeleton’s backbone.
High-Fidelity (Hi-Fi) Wireframes
Now you need to add a little more muscle. If you opted to scratch out a Lo-Fi wireframe for starters, then your next wireframe along the Hi-Fi route can expand on that. However, you’re also free to skip past doing a Lo-Fi version and opt for a prettier, high resolution beginning.
Hi-Fi wireframes are, after all, generally just higher quality versions of Lo-Fi wireframes. However, the concentrated detail with a Hi-Fi wireframe allows you to provide much more detail that might otherwise be missing or even interactable sections.
While it’s certainly nice to fill in those missing gaps, Hi-Fi wireframes also take a lot more effort to set up than Lo-Fi versions do. You can’t draw these, after all, they require digital construction to design a suitable framework that’ll represent your website. It’s also by this very virtue of effort that it’s entirely possible and reasonable to skip creating a Hi-Fi wireframe.
These wireframes take time, much more so than it takes to scribble out a framework on a napkin. In fact, you may find that creating a Hi-Fi wireframe takes too much time. Eventually you sink too much into it for it to prove its own use. In the meantime when you were designing a high quality framework, you could have already been creating a prototype for the website with graphics and features.
The type of wireframe you end up using, or even if you use both, is mostly a matter of preference. You may find that you envision the website much more effectively with a high resolution wireframe, or you might find that all you need is a rough template to get started, or some combination of the two.
How Wireframing Improves UX
Have you ever leapt into writing a book report, gotten most of the way through it, and then discovered some new piece of information that would really work well with your topic? The problem is, you’re in so deep already that finding the space for this juicy nugget of info is going to be a Herculean task unto itself. You’ll probably be able to do it, but you’re gonna be yanking out a few more hairs than you’d like in the process.
The same issue happens with UX. You get started, realize there’s an element missing, and then you have to rearrange everything to make room for it. Wireframing is a tool dedicated to improving UX for this problem. The earlier you can catch a problem, an opportunity for improvement, or a necessity for change, the easier facilitating those new elements will be.
Creating a wireframe is one of the earliest, if not the first, parts of the design process. Since it’s done so early, it’s easier and cheaper to try and implement features here than later on. Any software developer will tell you how nail-pulling fixing something on a computer can be. Fluidity of function is only achieved through excessive preparation and planning.
Once you’ve made a wireframe showing the structure of a website, you’ll be able to see what features are redundant, missing, or don’t fit in the structure of the site. From here, you’re able to transfer this rough copy of your website between personnel, gathering new insights and information that may lead you to new concepts involving creating a better website.
Ease of communication is one of the greatest tools on your belt. It’s hard being purely objective alone, and the more pairs of eyes you have, the better the chances that someone’s gonna notice something important. The ability to share a wireframe with teams and testing with target audiences really allows developers to take full advantage of UX.
A skeleton is the basis of everything with legs, both literal and figurative. Tackling a website without direction can be a messy business, mostly comprised of slapping together masses of UX design elements and praying they’ll work out together. I don’t know about you, but not only does that sound ineffective, it doesn’t even sound fun.
Every website should start with a wireframe. These are basic design frameworks without any bells and whistles - no graphics, no colors, nothing. By starting with the bare minimum, you’re able to fully envision what’s missing, what’s needed, what needs to be rearranged, and so on. You can start with two types of wireframes for these: Lo-Fi and Hi-Fi. Lo-Fi wireframes are pretty basic and can be made quickly, while Hi-Fi wireframes are more interactive and sophisticated, but require more work to create.
By making full use of your design tools, especially wireframes, you’ll have a far easier time of creating a functional website that users will be interested in. Since they’re made so early in the design process, you’ll have plenty of time, opportunity, and means to alter the website before it’s too late. Don’t forget to pass these wireframes around, you’re not above overlooking some important elements that are missing.
There’s plenty more information regarding UX and UI design tips that iTexico is happy to provide. You’re more than welcome to visit iTexico’s website to learn more about how to improve your website’s UI and UX.