A wireframe is a blueprint of your webpage or app, or whatever you may be creating. It is a two-dimensional representation of your structure (meaning that we are leaving out the design for the moment) which includes the underlying structure, layout, functionality, and copy for your page. Imagine that you want to build a custom home. You would go to an architect first to create a blueprint and then the builder would breathe life into the design with color, textures, and other details. In the case of wireframes, we want to focus on the website copy, layout, and structure.
Why Use Wireframes?
You might be thinking that wireframes seem like an extra step meant to take up more time in the website creation process. Why not just get right to work on creating your website? I’ll give you 3 reasons why wireframes are your best friend.
- Wireframes make the process of creating a website easy. Creating wireframes before creating a website can significantly speed up the web development process by providing a clear roadmap of the website’s layout and structure. It will save time and resources by reducing the number of revisions needed later on in the development process and it will help you stay focused and know exactly what goes where.
- Wireframes are for the non-technical. You don’t need to be an expert coder to build a website. With wireframes, you can see what your website will look like without having to learn all the coding terms. Along with this, you can easily see just how user-friendly (or not) your site is.
- Wireframes create unity on your team. They provide a clear communication tool between designers, developers, and stakeholders, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
How Do You Create a Wireframe?
Now that I’ve convinced you that wireframes might just be your new favorite tool, let me tell you how to create them. Here are 3 super simple steps to create anywhere from super basic to extremely complex wireframes.
- Determine Your Goals: The first step is to determine what the website needs to accomplish and what features it should have. This will help you figure out which elements need to be included in the wireframe. It’s really important to keep in mind the needs and preferences of the website’s target audience and not just your own because this will impact the layout and structure of the wireframe.
- Create Your Work of Art: Using a wireframing tool (Canva, Balsamiq, Figma, etc.) or even a paper and pencil, create a basic layout and structure for the website. This includes the placement of navigation menus, content areas, images, and other important elements.
- Add Detail and Refine: Once you have a basic wireframe, you can begin to add more detail and refine the design. This includes adding more specific content, deciding on font and colors, and refining the placement of certain elements. Here, you can also test the wireframe with users or others to be sure that it meets their needs and goals before moving on to the next stage of web development.
Misconceptions about Wireframes
Because wireframes can seem a little bit daunting, many people have misguided ideas about them. I want to get a few of these ideas out here and correct them. First, a lot of people think that wireframes are only for web designers. That’s not true at all! Wireframes are not just for web designers. They are an important tool for developers, project managers, and other team members to understand the layout and functionality of a website or app. Second, a lot of people think that wireframes are set in stone which can rub them the wrong way because anything set in stone can be stressful and overwhelming. Wireframes are not set in stone and can be changed as needed throughout the design process. They are a flexible tool that can be adjusted based on feedback from team members or users, or based on any other preferences that arise. The last one I’d like to mention is the idea that wireframes are the same as design. This really isn’t true. They are a basic representation of the layout and structure of a website or app, without any visual design elements. Wireframes are used to plan and test the functionality and user experience, while visual design focuses on the aesthetics and branding.
Some Disadvantages of Wireframes
Of course it’s not possible to have a tool that is completely perfect with no downsides, so let’s chat about some of the disadvantages of wireframes so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
- Overemphasis on Structure: Wireframes are focused on the layout and structure of the website, which can sometimes result in an overemphasis on structure at the expense of visual design or user experience. So, make sure that you don’t let wireframes replace your visual design step.
- Time-consuming: Creating wireframes can be a time-consuming process, especially for complex websites or apps. This can be a challenge for designers who are working on tight deadlines or who have limited resources. You may especially run into this issue if you’re a beginner because it takes time to learn how to use new programs and tools. Be patient with yourself and you can overcome this one!
- Difficulty Getting Feedback: It’s important to get feedback at some point in your wireframe creation process. It can be difficult to get useful feedback on wireframes from team members or users, as they may not fully understand the purpose or limitations of wireframes. This can result in feedback that is not actionable or that does not address the most important issues. As long as you fully prep your users on the point of wireframes, this will not be a challenge at all for you.
I really hope that after reading this, a term that once felt irrelevant to the process of building a therapy website became a vital step in the process. While wireframes have their limitations and challenges, they can help to save time and resources by identifying potential issues early on in the design process. By choosing the right wireframing tools and communicating effectively with team members and users, you can create wireframes that accurately represent your website and help to ensure a successful end product. Your practice is worth it. If you put in the time and effort now, you will be shocked at the time it saves you in the long run.
We’re not done yet! We believe in the value of wireframes so much that we have a bonus gift for you!!! You can download a free Home page wireframe built in Canva here.