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5 Tips to Create Effective Wireframes

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Wireframing is one of the first phases of the website design process. In this phase, ideas are unpolished and maybe even a little scattered. Wireframes serve as a way to put together all of the elements of a website, to include imagery, navigation, calls to action, and content.

The whole purpose of using wireframing tools is to set the foundation for creating a website that is well-designed, user-friendly, and high converting. With millions of websites online, it’s more important than ever to have an online presence that is meticulously designed.

But before you start researching wireframe tools for software developers and creating wireframes, there are some tips and tricks you’ll want to know. Keep reading for 5 tips that will ensure your wireframes are effective and lay the proper framework to build a quality website from the ground up.

1. Sketch First

While you may be eager to jump into using a wireframing application, it’s actually best to first use pencil and paper. Though this means some manual work on your end, sketching first gives you a better idea of the overall plan for the website.

Sketching also allows you to put your thoughts on paper. You can ask your website development team to all create sketches. This is an easy way to put everyone’s ideas on paper and to figure out which layout and design pieces are the most ideal.

2. Focus on Flow

When teams gather to discuss what the company or organization’s website should look like, most people immediately jump into the look and feel of the site. While it’s important to iron out details like fonts, colors, and graphical imagery that will be used, wireframing shouldn’t involve any of these details.

For thorough wireframing, you’ll want to shift focus away from the style of the website and instead put the spotlight on the flow. How will users navigate the site? Which pages are connected to one another? What information is presented on the home page and where?

By focusing on the flow and layout of your website first, you can create a solid blueprint. Once the bones of the website are in place, you can focus on the look and feel of the site.

3. Keep It Simple

When determining the flow of your website, it’s still quite easy to get into the weeds of wanting to fine-tune the site’s appearance. Everyone is eager to see their ideas come to life and to see the design start to develop. For most people, a simplistic wireframe can fall short of bringing the website to life on paper.

But the key to creating effective wireframes is keeping them high level. Wireframes aren’t the place to have in-the-weeds details. It’s best to keep the wireframes as simplistic as possible.

For example, you’ll want to avoid using colors unless they’re intentional. Black and white may be boring but it keeps the focus on the flow and not the site’s styling. You’ll also want to use placeholders where possible. For example, instead of focusing on what hero image will be on the homepage, you can instead use a rectangle with an X through it to identify all graphical elements on pages.

Placeholders should also be used for headlines, subtitles, and blocks of text. You can easily fill the space using lorem ipsum filler text.

4. Be Consistent

Wireframes should facilitate design, development, and communication for everyone on the team. Just as you should create wireframes at a high level, it’s also important to be consistent. By keeping all wireframes consistent, you can minimize confusion and maintain the flow from page to page.

Some tips for maintaining a consistent look when wireframing include:

  • To ensure consistency in your wireframes:
  • Use the same typography
  • Keep colors to a minimum
  • Maintain spacing
  • Have set placeholders (ie. lorem ipsum for content, boxes with an x for images, blue underlined text for links, etc.)

Using these tips you can make the most out of your wireframes. In turn, you can minimize confusion and misunderstanding when the time comes to use the diagrams to design the live pages.

5. Run Click-Through Tests

What’s nice about wireframes is that they can be used for much more than figuring out the design of your website’s landing and supporting pages. Once your wireframes are complete, you’ll want to use them to get a feel for what the website experience is.

Link all of your wireframes together and take the time to run several click-through tests. Create several scenarios and make note of any issues. Chances are if you’re confusing during these scenarios, website visitors will be confused as well.

By taking the time to experience and test the website in its infancy, you can not only pinpoint and fix issues, but you can also get buy-in from developers and stakeholders. After getting a taste of how the site will work, the team is more likely to be anxious and excited to see it in its final form.

Conclusion

Wireframing is a great tool for creating a sturdy foundation in creating a website. With a sturdy foundation, you can create a blueprint that sets your website up for success in the future. Using these 5 tips you can ensure that the wireframes you create are useful and effective.