Sep 16, 2020, Design

The Why and How of Wireframes

Ewa Zielina UX Designer

It seems like a lot of people have already written something about wireframes – but we still want to add our thoughts on that topic. This will help you understand why they are such an important step in our design process. We will explain how those are created, used and translated into a full product.

As stated at – a wireframe is a basic visual interface guide that suggests the structure of an interface and the relationships between its pages.

Why do you need wireframes?

During our design process, creating wireframes is a step of forming a draft of a product that can be easily verified and examined. During the first stages of our work, it gives us a general view of the whole project. Thanks to that, the client can check if the presented solution meets his expectations. Also, wireframes allow us to quickly introduce changes to the product before it gets to further stages of the development process.

Additionally, at this point, we can easily decide what parts of the product are really crucial, and how the project can grow in the future. This allows us to make bigger decisions before the actual UI and coding parts start.

The main benefits of wireframes for the client:

  • Evaluation of the idea before visual design and development starts 
  • A chance to present the draft of product to the client’s company and the possibility to discuss internally
  • Testing the product before moving to the next steps of implementation
  • Reducing the cost of changes and adjustments that can be very expensive in the late stages of the project

Wireframes step by step

Why are wireframes so important in our work process?

  • The whole team has a chance to understand the project’s structure from the very beginning
  • It simplifies communication between the team and the client
  • Everyone engaged in the project knows what to expect from the final product
  • The whole design and development process becomes more efficient because everyone knows how the product works as a whole.
  • When the product is complex, a more visual and “real” form helps to understand more complicated processes and allows to speed up the communication.

What do wireframes look like?

Most often wireframes present interface structure, navigation scheme, a draft of content, buttons, icons, placeholders and more. All of these elements placed on the wireframe views will showcase the features and functioning of the product.

The base is super clear, using lines, boxes, grayscale colors, basic fonts and described placeholders instead of graphic content.

The process of wireframe creation

What needs to be done before our UX team can start designing the wireframes?

Depending on the complexity of the project – definitely Product Workshops. After collecting all the needed knowledge, the designer starts to create the skeleton of the solution – wireframes. Having the information architecture in mind, sometimes we begin with less-precise wireframes called low-fidelity (lo-fi) ones.

These first sketches showcase if all the elements are included in the view and if the basic flow of operation is as expected. Depending on the preference of the designer, this can be done on paper, a board or a computer. That’s a good material to start a conversation with the client or the team about all the decisions they have to make when it comes to basic but key functionalities and structure. 

The advantage of the less-detailed approach is prompt verification of the idea (but in a very limited way). Also, we can generate a couple of different solution concepts. Next – we pick the best one.

After having the project in the form of lo-fi wireframes, we can start to create high-fidelity (hi-fi) ones – they are much more close to the styled prototype. These wireframes cover all the shortages of the basic version. They define weight, visual hierarchy, actual form and all the interactions within the product. 

What’s next?

We are almost finished! Our wireframes are ready – so what’s next? Usually, wireframes are assembled into one clickable prototype of the product. It contains not only the main views of the app but all the needed ones to present all possible cases. 

When we have this clickable prototype, we can proceed with customer surveys that will quickly verify the idea’s accurateness and if the product will actually work.

After testing and verifying, if the prototype receives approval, it can be passed to the next stages of design and implementation. These steps include whole visual design, development and more.

Now you know why wireframes are important and how we create them. If you are looking for a web and mobile development agency that works with you every step of the way – contact us. Let’s start with a conversation and your idea can become something extraordinary.