Many a time while developing a website, you might come across suggestions that you should skip the wireframing stage and roll right into what the site is going to look like i.e., the design. Supporting arguments for the same can be given as that the client would not understand what wireframes are and that jumping directly into the design will take you a step closer to launch. Trust us, this suggestion is not as good as it sounds. We will tell you why but first let’s talk about what a wireframe is. For organizations or individuals that are looking to build a website of any size or shape, wireframes act as the foundation on which they begin building. Wireframing usually comes into action right before the creative design phase, once you have determined the site architecture using a site map or flow chart of the website pages.
What is a Wireframe?
To understand it further, wireframes are nothing complex but just simple black and white layouts outlining the specific size and placement of page elements, site features, and conversion areas along with the navigation for your website. Wireframes are devoid of colour, font choices, logos or any real design element that can take away from purely focusing on a site’s structure. Wireframes are often referred to as your home’s blueprint where one can easily see the structural placement of their plumbing, electrical and other structural elements without needing any interior design treatments. Overlooking this step for getting the look and feel is a huge mistake that can be disastrous for any website or any contractor building a home for that matter. Wireframes hold great importance and are as essential as plumbing. Here are some of the major reasons further advocating the importance of wireframes:
Wireframes Display Site Architecture Visually
Sitemaps can often be a bit abstract, especially the large ones. By taking the sitemap to wireframe, you can start the first real concrete visual process for a project. Using wireframes, you can easily turn the abstract nature of a flow chart into a real and tangible idea that will have zero distractions. Other than that, it will also help you bring all the parties on the same page.
Wireframes Allow for Clarification of Website Features
Most of your clients might not be familiar with terms like “hero image,” “google map integration,” “product filtering,” “light boxes” in addition to other several features. This is why you need wireframing-specific project features on a website that can help you establish clear communication with a client on how these features will function and where they are located on a specific page.
Wireframes Push Usability to the Forefront
One of the most important points of the entire wireframing process is creating wireframes to push usability to the forefront in order to showcase page layouts at their core. It helps you make sure that everyone looks objectively at conversion paths, the website’s ease of use, and the naming of links along with the navigation and feature placement. Not only this, but wireframes can also help you address scalability and ease-of-update, make the design process iterative, and can save you a lot of time.
Top 5 Best Wireframing Tools
It is a dedicated wireframing tool with a beautifully intuitive interface and clear icons along with a solid library of UI elements that the users can easily drag and drop into their wireframes. It also has various components for Bootstrap, Foundation, iOS and Android. Users can easily import and export files to Sketch and Photoshop, allowing them to develop their wireframes into full prototypes further on down the line.
Adobe XD was launched as a direct competitor to Sketch (discussed later in our list). It is a vector-based design tool available for both Mac and Windows. Adobe XD offers full interoperability with other Adobe tools, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and services like Adobe Fonts and Adobe Stock. This wireframing tool is strongly focused on making the process of sketching wireframes easy for designers by allowing them to create site maps, flowcharts and storyboards to build functional prototypes.
Using Axure, you can not only create low-fi wireframes but can even add extra functionality and build high-fidelity wireframes too. It can also be used to craft interactive HTML mock-ups for both websites and apps, and to view your app design on your phone. Its built-in share function makes it even more interesting.
Balsamiq Mockups is an ideal wireframing tool to pick up and start creating wireframes, even if you don’t have any experience at it. Anyone looking to put together a quick and low-fi wireframe instead of a polished prototype, must try Balsamiq Mockups.
Unfortunately, Sketch isn’t available for Windows, but it is still worth getting ranked on our list. For Mac users, it offers a lot of features. Ever since its inception in 2010, it has been revolutionising the whole market for wireframing and prototyping tools because it focuses on UI and icon vector design. It is lightweight and easy to use and offers a beautifully simple and intuitive interface for the users.