Why Wireframes are crucial for Website Design Process?
When I first started learning website design, I directly jumped into setting up a page on a platform like Wix or WordPress and started putting in the content. For the text, I typically put some Lorem Impsum like dummy text and similarly for images, I started out with arbitrary images and later swapped them with relevant ones. After building and designing a few website for my own projects, I got exposed to the notion of Wireframes and I always asked myself: What are wireframes and why should I care? To me it always felt like I am adding an extra step to my overall design process because despite a wireframe, I still have to sit down and code it up for my website so does it really matter? What is the importance of a wireframe? So, in this article I would like to share my learnings as my knowledge and experience has evolved over time.
First things first, what is a wireframe?
Before we begin discussing the significance of wireframes, we first need to understand what is a wireframe. In essence, a wireframe is a rough sketch or a skeleton of a website. The idea is to strip the website of all its distractors so that when you as a website designer are discussing the design with stakeholders for preliminary feedback, they don’t get fixated on things like quality of graphics, font styles etc., as those things come in much later in the design process.
As the name suggests, it is very barebones and can even be prepared with the good old pen and paper. It is meant to design the very basic layout of content with placeholders instead of the actual content. For instance, in the image below, the image placeholder is a rectangle with criss-cross lines; body text is represented with dashes, video placeholder with a play button inside rectangle etc.
Why wireframing should be an integral and starting point for website design?
Now that you know what is a wireframe, given its simplicity, you are likely asking yourself, what’s the point? At least, I did up until the point I learnt about the significance and why it’s worth the extra effort. So, here are some reasons to convince you to include wireframing in your website design process:
- Identifying essential features for the website: Skipping the wireframing stage and directly starting to set up a website stands the risk of addition of unnecessary features. There is a big difference between adding features that “look good” vs the features that are 100% crucial and hence essential to have. Wireframing helps you decide and drop the “good to have” features and only stick to essentials. Cutting out the fluff helps keep the website streamlined and drive ROI through enhanced user experience (UX)
- Setting up a suitable website architecture: While the wireframes are very barebones, diverting the attention away from aesthetics such as colors and fonts and focusing more on designing a rock-solid architecture is really worth it in the long run. Wireframes are very much capable of setting up navigations and basic transitions so that you as a designer and the stakeholders can get a feel of the website. I’ve personally enjoyed learning and using Figma for this as it helps me to share the wireframe and even get essential feedback from stakeholders before I spend work hrs building the website. Though, I confess that in the beginning it used to pinch a little that despite having an awesome wireframe, when it came down to coding the LIVE website, it still felt like I was starting from ZERO though now I’ve gotten the hang of it and I definitely start with wireframes all the time.
- Evaluating ease of scalability: Often when starting out, business owners are focused on cost conservation and that is crucial to do but skipping the wireframe might set you up to scalability bottleneck. Consider this scenario: in the early days, you as a business owner would typically start out with fewer offerings- be it services or products. As the business grows, if you want the website to grow, wireframing exercise can point out essential considerations if and when they might become a bottleneck while scaling up. Of course, this is not so relevant for a static website in which case, the previous considerations are still relevant so don’t evade wireframing for a static website
So, despite the temptations to skip the wireframing- either because you think you as a designer can save time or as a business owner you think you can save cost, trust me when I say this- making edits to a wireframe and aligning it to your future business plans will cost you much less now than what it would if you were to do this to a LIVE website.
Need helping building and/or designing your website? DM me on Instagram and we can take it from there.