Do you think, ‘wireframes are just empty visuals’? A step in the design process that can be forgone easily? Well, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken. And so that you get your facts right, I am here to shed some light on the importance of wireframing, which is nowhere less than coding. Be it a scribbled sketch or a high-fidelity prototype, some form of wireframing is essential to reflect the design of UI. It is during this very stage that ideas take a definite shape sectioning into buttons and menus that are user centric.
Although appearing simple, it covers the nitty- gritty of designing and includes all the intricate aspects of the layout. It is undoubtedly a great thinking tool that gives valuable insight on user needs and user journeys. If you are new to the world of wireframing , get your eyes glued here as we are offering some brilliant tips to help you churn out awesome wireframes :-
1. Hack The Problem
Triggered by the solution-based thinking, it is common to run after solutions without knowing the actual problem. Let’s say, a client asks you to change the color of the logo and you follow the same, now, that is your way for seeking a solution, not identifying the problem. It is important to be clear after brainstorming as one tends to be tempted to get the final interactive product by straightway jumping to coding and leaving planning.
Actually, that’s when you are bound to suffer. Remember, web and software projects can never be rushed; you got to handle small as well as big problems that come along the path. By recognizing the exact problem, you can be pretty clear about the objectives and thus, save on lot of work in the project. Making changes in the initial stages is easy as compared to the various complicated codes involved in the development process.
Wireframe gives a proper structure that helps to avoid errors, make changes and improve and also understand the dynamics of the product as a whole. Wireframing makes you visualize more and paves way to innovative ideas that can add great dimensions to the product.
2. Stick To Deadlines
Every project has a set frame of time that marks its completion. Fix the period and then stick to the deadline to deliver it on time. The early stage of wireframing could range from one to several days, depending upon the level of application or webpage. And thereafter iterations follow when the stakeholders and the clients give their feedback and even more after user testing.
Looking into the length of the process set aside a period and then go with your own rules. Using this approach, you are being well-organized and systematic and of course, highly usable.
3. Functionality Rules Over Beauty
Don’t be over driven with aesthetics. You must work on the basic framework first. With simple yet visualizing wireframes, you can communicate better with your clients. Wireframes may differ in presentation with the help of various wireframe tools available in settings. Nevertheless, wireframes serve the task of usability and functionality first and then looks come in picture. It is a kind of blueprint that is drafted before the final design so that color, contrast, fonts etc. can be looked into properly.
4. For One And All
Wireframing is all about communicating. The key to effective communication through wireframes is to keep it simple as then only they can translate the ideas well. Keep everyone in the loop- designers, developers, stakeholders and users so that they can contribute with their valuable feedback. Wireframes put forth a skeletal structure of the design which help the third parties like architects and project managers to know about the project from its initial stages.
The first wireframe should generate feedback, after which the second one should execute the changes and finally, the last wireframe should display refined and improvised ideas, before a high-fidelity prototype is created.
5. Size The Content
Even though wireframes does not account for the nuances of the product, still it has some features to present realistic layout to the clients. Well-structured wireframes give a fair idea about the amount of content to be included on the page. This also implies for the number and length of links corresponding to navigation.
Try to finalize accurately sized fonts, graphics and images and also think over the case when more content is required to be added to the current design. However, never give the stakeholders an impression that loads of extra content can be accommodated.
6. User Power
A vital part of wireframing is user experience. usability testing plays great importance right at the early stages of wireframing in the form of high-fidelity models. Users hold significant value and ultimately, it is all about capturing their needs in the best possible manner. To look after the needs, you must understand the target customers by creating personas.
Personas are dummy characters with name and picture and other relevant factors like behaviors, role, activities etc. and additionally, the main issue which is to be addressed or the benefit that should be given. Also, try forming user stories to grasp the categories of target users and customers. User stories are useful as they depict the stories about the users using the product. After creating the personas and specifying the right user stories, you can implement this useful knowledge into your wireframe.
7. Be Consistent
While building an app or webpage always aim for consistency as this reliable feature, in turn, knits users, developers and designers together. It is trust that wins customer loyalty and for trust, you need consistency. Consistency makes the product predictable and easier to user. It does not leave any ground for uncertainty and strengthens trust.
Say, customers can easily navigate your website and locate the path, the very first time, then, there are great chances of them revisiting the website with this satisfied user experience. If you want to make changes to all the common elements at one time, go for choices that allow multiple changes in these pages. Always take note of the design patterns that repeat. Utilizing these will enable more efficiency and consistency.
8. UI Differs From UX
Going after the beauty quotient, one may want to use the presentation methods such as AJAX. But you must take note that a wireframe document focuses more on functionality and not the presentation style or the users’ interaction with the elements. Keeping in the line with the accessibility factor, applications have to work without features like AJAX and thus, just like the wireframe.
9. Section It All
As we know that a website or app is labeled in different sections namely news, products and user account. So, make sure that you divide your wireframe document as per these sections for high convenience.
10. Number Point
It is seen that a web application undergoes an action following a number of processes. Now, these are linear and go in an order, but sometimes customers may opt for different paths by skipping a step in between. It is advisable that you number your pages in the document and then mark the pages with their particular calls-to-action.
Websites generally include advertising for making money. This could be as basic as Google ads; anyhow they are a part of functionality and not design, so remember to include them always.
12. Third Party Benefit
Consider using a tool that supports user tests and imports real data. This is essential as stakeholders are more drawn towards the review of a wireframe if they see real data in it. By importing real data, you can successfully assess interactions, features and overall experience real time.
13. Be The Host
Choose a tool that gives you the access to host your wireframes yourself on your own servers. This can help in maximizing security and personalization. This tip is extremely important while you are dealing with sensitive or confidential material. Stakeholders are at ease if your work allow configuration that suits their particular needs.
14. Get On With Right Tools
Opting for the wrong tool can be hazardous for your design and take you away from your ultimate goal of high fidelity prototype. It is good to start with pen and paper as they are easier and quicker than computers and generate brilliant ideas with advancing concepts. As soon as you start documenting, use the tool that suits you and matches your comfort level.
Wireframes should be just like a document rather than something loaded with interactive elements, so it is advisable to keep HTML aside.
15. Deal With Dependencies
We are fully aware of a shopping cart process, so we think that wireframing is pretty simple in this case. But actually that’s not what it is. Problems can arise if you’re dependent on a third party provider such as Pay pal. This can affect the working of the various parts of the website. Make it a point to work out the areas which involve dependencies and go for the changes with it. The earlier you make changes, the better.
No matter whatever way or tools you choose, wireframing is a dynamic process to save time and effort in a software project. Instead of pressurizing your developers to speed up their coding to make for ineffective communication and hindrances along the path, plan what you want to deliver and align the ideas together before coding takes place.
Trust me, it will be worth it. I hope this article gave you a clear picture of wireframing process and outlined its approach, tools and final outcome practically.