How to Make a Wireframe - A Step-by-Step Guide
Whatever your process is, the most essential and principal thing about building a website is knowing how to make a wireframe. Since it is the first step, wireframing can establish a solid foundation for the entire user experience and determine the overall success.
However, if you are new to the vast world of web design, wireframing can be incredibly confusing and overwhelming. Fortunately, this task is all about giving structure to something that could otherwise be chaotic. This article will provide you with a step-by-step guide and some tips to make the wireframing process more efficient.
What Is A Wireframe?
A wireframe is a fundamental outline of a website that focuses primarily on its actual functionality and basic structure. It usually consists of the page layout, user flow, content placement, information hierarchy, interactive features, and other essential elements.
UX designers often create the wireframe, either as a rough sketch or using online tools, depending on how detailed they want it to be. Since it is a skeletal outline, design elements such as colors and graphics are only secondary if they do appear.
The Purpose Of A Wireframe
Creating a website requires a considerable amount of collaborative work. A wireframe gives everyone involved a fundamental understanding of what the interface will include. In addition, it maps out a clear vision for concepts that can often seem abstract at the beginning stages.
In addition to being a visual tool, a wireframe is also the communication bridge between the stakeholders, designers, and developers. It gives an easy-to-follow overview, so the client can provide their feedback on preferences, potential problems, and other issues. From there, the design team can make adjustments to meet the mutual objective.
How To Make A Wireframe
Step 1: Do Your Research
Before jumping into the actual work, you first need some information to know where to start. Take the time to look into standard elements such as your user personas, user interface, UX trends, competitor profiles, etc.
The research process could take longer than anticipated. Sometimes the data is already available; other times, it calls for various methods to collect information. However, its benefits emerge as the project goes on, and you have valuable insights to improve your work.
Step 2: Put Together Everything You Have Discovered
Organizing all the data you found from conducting research will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You can put everything into separate files based on what they are about, such as personas, usability, special features, etc. By the end of the day, you can compile all this data and create your own profile on your website's user experience.
Step 3: Map Out The User Flow
A common term in the UX vocabulary is “information architecture (IA),” which sketches out how the content may flow within a digital environment. Its ultimate goal is to facilitate users to navigate and find what they are looking for when browsing a website.
One of the most crucial parts of wireframing is ensuring the efficiency of a website’s IA. This will guarantee that your users can be self-sufficient and be more motivated to stay on your website. The pages need to be clear, specific, cater to everyone, and straightforwardly connected to one another.
Step 4: Sketch The Outline
Having gathered all the necessary information, you can finally move on to the product design process and put down the basic structure. Keep in mind that your wireframe design is not the finished product; there is little to no room for elaboration and aesthetic elements.
If you have trouble figuring out what to draft, look at the collected data and see how you can organize it most efficiently. Then, pick out the most prominent content, decide on the main message, and determine the best placement to make an excellent first impression. After you are done, you can ask your colleagues to weigh in on any adjustments that need to be made.
Step 5: Put In The Additional Details
Once the overall flow is covered, it is time to fill in the blank spaces with some small but essential design details. As mentioned in the previous step, the aesthetic elements are still kept to a minimum at this stage, so a few add-ins you can consider are:
- Usability features, such as the search box, top screen logo, contact information, navigation menus, and many more.
- Trust-building elements that make your website seem more friendly, like calls to action, social media presence, faces of company members, mission statements, etc.
- Other functionality features and common components might be needed to get the prototype running smoothly.
Step 6: Turn Your Wireframe Into A Prototype
Now that the wireframe is fully sketched, you can turn it into a prototype, which is a high-fidelity mockup of what a website could potentially look like.
Prototyping is an essential step that brings your ideas to life and avoids long-term errors that can be fixed at the very beginning. You can use it to show your clients for assessment before handing it off to developers.
There are a lot of great prototyping tools out there you can use, namely Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, Affinity Designer, etc. With the help of the software, you can create high-fidelity prototypes in a short amount of time. The results are nothing short of greatness, with incredible details and amazing graphics that will surely impress stakeholders management teams.
Tips For A Making A Good Wireframe
Keep It Simple
Simplicity should be the accent when it comes to building a wireframe. Try not to get distracted by aesthetic details and focus mainly on the end goal, your website's purpose.
The flow, transitions, and screens should be simple but still functional, making the navigation process effortless. This way, you can have a clear picture of how everything works and anticipate all the possibilities for potential errors.
Make It Familiar With Users
Keep the features on your website predictable and familiar. This could mean using common language, making the calls to action clear, putting the buttons and boxes in easy-to-find places, or logically organizing the information. You will have plenty of space for originality and creativity later on, but your website should be user-friendly at its core.
Do Not Overlook Its Transparency
Clarity is also an essential factor to consider when making a wireframe, especially if it is a collaborative effort between you and a team of designers. Your sketch could become a blueprint for others to base their work on, so do not hesitate to add annotations and labels where they are needed. More often than not, you can also benefit from this when you come back to review your work.
If you are having trouble visualizing an interactive element of the website, generate a click-through PDF prototype. You can quickly create one using Adobe Acrobat to convert your existing documents into PDFs and link them together. This low-fidelity mockup is also great for collecting instant feedback on a design because it allows remote user-testing, even in the early development stages.
Experiment Different Ideas
Despite the need to keep things fundamental and uncomplicated, there are still grounds for you to get experimental. If you have any ideas or concepts, do not be afraid to test them out. It might be easier since everything is still relatively non-committal at this point. Outline different directions for the website and see which one everyone approves of the most.