Cameron FrancisSeptember 10,2013

How Do Wireframes Benefit The Web Design Process?

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Wireframing is a key phase of the web design process. Although there is a temptation to skip this process and proceed directly from the information architecture and design brief straight into design, it will be highly beneficial to generate wireframes after the conceptual site plan and before site development begins. Wireframes will enable you to proceed more efficiently with the development of your site and they will save you time and expense in the long run.In this article we will examine some of the key benefits of wireframing a site.

What Are Wireframes?

Prior to discussing the advantages of wireframing, we will briefly describe what a wireframe is. A wireframe is a visual representation of the layout of a website. It may be referred to as a blueprint, outline, or the skeleton. Normally, a wireframe will represent the basic structure, navigation, and major components of the pages of a site. The wireframe will not incorporate completed design elements, but it will show where these elements will be placed on a page. Normally, wireframes are generated in grayscale utilising wireframing software.

Wireframes permit members of the design team and customers to:

  • Refine and test navigation
  • Visualise the layout of content on a page
  • Examine and quickly refine the design of the user interface,
  • interactive elements, and web forms
  • Evaluate the usability of a site
  • Determine the development requirements

Now we will examine some of the primary wireframing benefits.

Wireframes Increase the Efficiency of Design Changes

It requires far more expertise, time, and effort to design a web page than it does to create a wireframe. When a customer examines a finished design, they are viewing a product that has required quite a bit of time to generate and it is likely to take a considerable amount of expense, time, and effort to revise.

Unfortunately, changes in a design or almost inevitable. Nevertheless, when wireframes are reviewed by customers, design changes can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Changing the size of a header, or altering the layout of a page can be done quite quickly. When these types of changes are made to fully completed, high resolution designs, it can be quite costly in terms of time and expense. Understanding the large impact in terms of time and expense of design changes, makes developers and customers reluctant to express concerns regarding a design due to the time and expense of addressing these issues.

The take home point here is that wireframes make it inexpensive and fast to alter or even completely change a design.

Wireframes Improve the Design of Site Navigation

A key factor in effective web design is the ability of users to easily find content and site navigation that is intuitive is critical to achieving this. If users are not able to easily navigate a site, they will depart.The adverse effects of poor navigation are increasing as users are increasingly web savvy. Unfortunately, developers and clients often have a tough time evaluating site navigation until they actually use it.Wireframes allow clients and developers to test the navigation of a site to determine the ease or difficulty associated with locating key pages and to determine if dropdown menus serve to confuse or clarify navigation site for visitors. Wireframes can also help in determining if breadcrumbs are distracting or useful and to determine if the overall navigational design is incomprehensible, intuitive, or lies between these two extremes.

When issues with navigation are discovered after the completion of design it is akin to discovering that the ceilings of a home are too low subsequent to the home being built. Navigational issues are often prohibitively costly to correct.

Wireframes Can Improve Content Development

Content that is created to improve SEO, provide value to human readers, or both, can appear elegant or clunky. Large blocks of text that are undifferentiated often appear clunky, and visitors won’t read it. Content that is elegant and persuades and informs utilises design elements like fonts that are properly sized and readable, bullets, numbered lists and subheadings that are well-positioned. Wireframes make it simple to alter these elements and obtain a formatting scheme that will enhance persuasiveness and readability.

Conclusion

Website Design for a complex site can be a large undertaking. It involves a group of specialists working in tandem to give a concrete form to the vision of a client. Wireframes help to convey the structure of a site to both clients and developers and facilitate alterations to the site prior to its implementation to allow for quick and cost-effective design changes.

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Author: Cameron Francis Cameron Francis is the Director of eTraffic Group. He has been engaged in all aspects of online marketing for the past 8 years. He is actively involved in SEO, Paid Search, Social Media Optimisation, and Web Design.

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