What Is A Wireframe - Definition, Tutorials & Tools

March 1, 2023
What Is A Wireframe - Definition, Tutorials & Tools


Wireframing is an undeniably essential part of a web design process. However, many still have questions about the wireframe meaning or what is a wireframe. It can seem complicated if you are looking at too many different concepts. Still, having a clear understanding of what it is and the important ways it can affect your work will provide you with a bedrock for building a website. 

This article will discuss the meaning and purpose of wireframing and give you a step-by-step guide on how to create a functional wireframe and what tools you can use. 

An Overview On Wireframing

What Is A Wireframe?

A wireframe is a website’s structure used in the early development process. It maps out the basic content that will eventually appear on the final design. This could include common elements like the layout, interactive features, navigation structure, guides, and many more. As it is mainly the skeletal frame, creative components such as graphics, color schemes, and additional visual elements are kept to a minimum. 

A wireframe outlining the fundamental structure of a website

It is impossible to develop a website without establishing a wireframe first. Thanks to a visual overview it delivers, clients and design team members can picture the basics and give their feedback. More importantly, it helps the web creators understand the overall project vision and how to execute it most effectively.

The Advantage & Disadvantage Of Wireframing

Even though it may sound like a simple process, wireframing plays a much more significant role in a project. It allows prompt feedback from the client team and provides more accessible visuals for everyone to generate ideas. By providing insight into how a regular person would perceive the website, the wireframe suggests how to make the user's experiences more enjoyable. 

However, as aforementioned, the nature of wireframes is only to display fundamental aspects and basic interactions, sometimes to an almost abstract level. 

As a result, clients may have trouble grasping a concept or even delivering their ideas. The team communication needs to be precise and straightforward to make sure the collaborative process moves forward swimmingly. 

The Basic Steps In Wireframe Design

It can seem overwhelming if you do not know where to start, so take a look at this guide to learn what to do.

Step 1: Plan A Sitemap

It helps to know what your resources are before taking further actions. Then, depending on the scale, you can sketch out what the site will include, the way the content interacts, the pages within the domain, and other data. 

The file that contains all of this is a sitemap. It helps you delve deeper into what the navigation system, functional specifications, and other essential elements should be like. Since this is just an outline, it can be as detailed or general as possible. 

Step 2: Create The Homepage

The homepage consists of the essential components, most of which are simple graphics to represent different types of content. You can use boxes to symbolize images, horizontal lines for texts, the menu, and the logo, and categorize everything into rectangles of information. 

Common sections often found on the homepage are the About Us introduction, Sponsor list, Social Media Links, and contact info. 

Step 3: Map Out The User Flow

The flow of information within a website can get confusing if it is not organized correctly. This applies to both web design professionals and clients. 

You can avoid this by highlighting the critical parts and labeling them accordingly. Make a note of anything you find necessary, such as headings, image areas, banners, share buttons, etc. This system can help viewers become more self-sufficient and ensure clearer navigation paths.    

Step 4: Fill In The Gaps With Additional Details

Once you already have the backbone, the next wireframing stage is going back and adding more information where it is necessary. For example, it could be simple instructions, a search box, or other user guidance tools. Note that the added elements do not need to be overly detailed as everything is still in the early development process.  

What a sketch of a completed wireframe layout might look like 

Step 5: Create A Mobile Version

Most websites today are expected to be presentable on a mobile or tablet. If you have the time, make a simple version of what your website might look like on smart devices. 

The layout, image sizes, and user interaction vastly differ from the regular version. It pays to visualize how the structure and components look on a smaller interface.  

Step 6: Prepare To Turn It Into A Prototype

After everything is finished and your project team or client has given feedback, you can get ready to create the prototype. A prototype will give you an idea of how the website works in real-time. There are also tools that can help speed up the process for you. Test them out and choose the most suitable one for your project.  

Popular Tools Used To Make Wireframes

As technology progresses, there are more and more wireframing tools and programs for you to choose from. From web developers to non-professionals, no matter who you are, you can still find one that will help you sketch out a wireframe and build a prototype from it.  

Adobe XD

The neat and well-designed interface of Adobe XD

Adobe XD is one of the most popular web design tools on the market. It contains features that make wireframing a lot easier and faster, such as repeating grids, quick click-through prototypes, auto-animation, and other collaborative tools. The only downside is you need an Adobe subscription to have full access to everything it offers. 


With user experience in mind, Sketch enters the scene with user-friendly design features. As of lately, it has added more helpful tools that also can assist users in improving the navigational structure, prototyping, high-level interaction pattern, and other advanced features. Unfortunately, it is only available for Mac users, so you might need third-party software to view the designs on other platforms.  


Figma’s colorful user interface design

This web-based vector graphics editor is known for its teamwork and collaboration features. You can brainstorm together by using the artboards with color choices, simple shapes/symbols, texts, diagrams, etc., and organize them by panels. This enables you to outline wireframes, create prototypes, and work with others to create mockups for your projects.  


Beloved for its easy-to-follow and user-centered design interface, Justinmind is one of the newest wireframing tools everybody loves. It does not require any coding, so you can still use it even if you are a non-professional. It is not only packed with the usual functions such as UI Design, developer handoff, etc., but also contains the ability to create realistic prototypes from wireframes.  


Containing over 3000 built-in icons, templates, and components, this cloud-based software allows you to create a wireframe with a visual design that looks similar to actual prototypes. 

It also offers multiple ways to test your design and welcomes others to leave feedback. From desktop to mobile, on iOS or Android, all are accessible, so anyone on your development team can use it. 

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