What Are Website Wireframes and How They Can Help

In the Web design world (UX) we often think about how users will interact with a site based on the content provided for any given page. For clients, it can be hard to visualize what the outcome will be without seeing it first. And for Designers, it can be beneficial to block out spaces inside a rough blueprint to help everyone understand how content will interact and work within the confines of Web design.

A wireframe is kind of like a blueprint for a house, except that exact measurements and placement could change quite a bit in the end.

Design is important, but the messaging even more so. What you say on the page matters just as much as the visual delivery. Far too often a client just wants to “see it” without digging into the nuts and bolts of messaging and content production. 

That’s where wireframes help. Blocking out spaces inside a design with gray colors, labels, and more helps the client understand the purpose of a design. The purpose is to show off content both in text and image form. Content has been and will always be, king. 

The Intent of Wireframes

Wireframes come in many shapes, styles, and scope. Techniques vary by the designer but typically you have two primary formats.

1) A wireframe that’s lower-fidelity – areas are mapped out amongst 3-5 core boxes on the page. Sometimes content is copied and pasted into these versions wholesale (no formatting). There’s not much focus on getting everything exact in terms of scale.

2) A wireframe that’s higher fidelity – takes the concept above, much further. More exact sizing is outlined with clearer direction and broken-up content that will support users in scanning a website. Detailed buttons, links, and site features are outlined in high-fidelity wireframes.

It’s important to note that a client can be confused by what a wireframe is. This often comes in the form of questions like, “Is this what the website is going to look like?” The wireframe is a guide, it’s not a final design asset nor a strict representation of what will eventually be a full-color design. That square button you see may not be a square at all in the full-color mockup. Wireframes are meant to inform the client and team about the intentions set for content and feature placement. That’s it.

Going through this process is all about making sure that the page says what you want it to, in the places you want it to be said. 

Ideology of Wireframes

Producing wireframes with much greater levels of intent is a requirement of larger entities and businesses. This can include spending time on analytics, reviewing brand materials, and digging into user personas. This information may Inspire the designer to make unique choices that could benefit the overall user experience.

However, the psychology of a user is most closely associated with the content of a page rather than its design. The same is also true in that design can influence the user to take specific actions. So you must balance data, content, and graphic design to create a truly effective website.

Generally speaking, content writers will weave your desired message into the content of the page. As you review a wireframe you’ll likely notice that you’re skimming the page and reading primary headlines. Every user’s experience will be unique to them so designing a site that functions well, is easy to navigate, and looks good will be key to your success.

Saving Time Through Planning

Because wireframes are an integral part of planning a site design for larger projects, when you move into full-color compositions you’ll have a blueprint to work from. This saves time and energy on the back end of the project.

More importantly, there won’t be many surprises in the design presentation. When you can, refer to these meetings as “reviews” because the word “presentation” makes the meeting sound a little bit more than what it is.

In the review, you rely on context already shared with the client, but now you’re taking a look at something more complete and full of graphic design elements.

…and that’s all there is to it really. So, hopefully, you’re walking away with a little bit more information about what a wireframe is and how clients/designers interact with them.

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll catch you again next time!