Wireframes: What They Are and Why You Need Them

  • Sarah Johnson 09-02-2020 Read time (6 min)

Wireframes: What They Are and Why You Need Them

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, your solution depends on wireframes! Creating a great product requires the same amount of meticulousness that an architect employs when building a house. It’s important to get a clear visual understanding of your final product so that any obstacles can be eradicated and your team can be on the same page – this is why you need wireframes.

What Is A Wireframe?

A wireframe is a tool that design teams use to plan the mobile and web layouts of their products. It helps them organize the information and arrange it according to a hierarchy that is based on how users interact with digital interfaces of this kind. It can be used at any stage of the production to test user usability and consumer comprehension.

In simple words, it’s a diagram view of your product which can be a mobile application or a website.

Wireframes allow design teams to gauge how functional their product is and how well their design layout is. In other words, it helps an organization see task flows, information hierarchy and technical feasibility at the critical stages so that improvements and amendments can be made.

Wireframes give design teams an idea of how close they are to their goals, if everything is fitting together, if their vision has come true and if the product is ready to go or needs some tweaking.

What Does a Wireframe Look Like?

Since a wireframe is a simple template, its main aim is to contain the main information, visually display the structure and layout, and also show descriptively what the user interface will look like. It can be achieved via the following.

Simple Structure
Using lines, boxes, and only black and white, designers plan how their product will look like. This gives them a framework to begin working.

Simple Vectors
The end product will contain all sorts of visual media, like pictures, videos, text, etc. Using placeholders (replacing pictures with shaded regions) and symbolic words, designers can figure out how to plan their content.

Standard Elements
Because of its simplicity and lack of visual appeal, this template contains standard elements to show what the product’s blueprint will look like:

  • Logo of the product
  • Search fields
  • Breadcrumb
  • Headers, footers, title and headings
  • Navigation systems
  • Body content
  • Share buttons
  • Contact information

Who Can Use Wire Frames?

Everyone involved in the development of the product can use wireframes to get a better understanding of how well the process is going and what the end result can look like. Here are a few examples of who can use wireframes

Stakeholders and Owners
When money is on the line, everyone in the hierarchy wants to get involved. Stakeholders and owners can use wireframes to understand how the product layout will look so that their feedback can be relayed back to the team members.

It’s also a way for them to keep check on the project objectives and if the goals are being met or not.

Product Designers
Designing a product is a tedious process. Constant check and balance must be done to ensure that that the preceding codes or instructions are working properly.

Design teams use wireframes to see how well their foundational design is panning out. It can help them test user experience at various stages of production for improvements.

Product Developers
Various teams are involved in the product process, including the developers which are responsible for technical feedback.

Product developers use wireframes to see how the technical requirements interact with the front-end design and where it needs work.

Types of Wireframes

Wireframes are used early on in the production process. According to the stages of production, the wireframe is designed in three different ways. From the basic black and white boxes, they eventually develop into a full product, complete with all of its attributes.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes
These wireframes are developed right from the start to understand the design of the product. Mainly done in black white and with simple tools, these can either be done manually by drawing on paper or on a simple digital program.

The main aim of low-fi wireframes is to show where information goes and how it is ordered. At this point, the product team is only concerned with how the product will work.

Medium-Fidelity Wireframes
Medium-fi wireframes come into use in the later stages. After the product’s basic functional map is set out and the basic information is organized, the product team can use more detail in their wireframes to see their progress.

At this stage, a detailed copy of the product and a more extensive interface design can be laid out and screened.

Hi-Fidelity Wireframes
When the product begins to resemble the finished product, this is when hi-fi wireframes are used. After the teams have organized the technical part of the products (for example, buttons, navigations, interface, etc.), they begin to add detail.

With hi-fi wireframes, product design teams can add color, details, and anything pertaining to visual details to their finished product. At this stage, designers know how their product will look like in the hands of the consumers.

Advantages of Wireframing

Wireframing is taking over prototypes and demo programs as the new way to test out product functionality, design and usability. With processes made simple, organizations can save on time, resources and brain power.

Vivid Display of the Product Map
Taking complex programs like sitemaps towards wireframing can actually show how the project will look like in the hands of the users.

The abstract workings of a product are made easy for everyone’s understanding, without the unnecessary distractions and details of the initial stages.

Clarify Product Features
Using a wireframe helps the organization communicate easily with their client about the specificities of the product.

Because the wireframe interface is devoid of any complex visual and programming features, the simple outlay will allow the main components of the project to be highlighted, which makes it easier for even the non-technical individuals and teams to provide feedback and input.

Usability is Prioritized
Wireframing allows product team to showcase their page layouts. It allows everyone to see conversation pathways, naming of links, navigation placements, and features that the product aims to feature.

Using a wireframe will also help technical teams identify flaws and kinks in their product’s architecture, which can save them time.

Designing Process is Iterative
A product combines various elements, like functionality, layout, branding, etc., which can become a bit too overwhelming.

Wireframing allows for simplification of these processes. The elements are taken one at a time, which makes the product’s progress easy to understand by everyone, especially to gather feedback.

Efficient Use of Time
Using wireframes has shown to save time with creating and executing projects. Experience is beginning to show that using wireframes saves time through various ways:

  • Facilitating design calculation
  • Clarifying the content creation stage
  • Easy interface allows all teams to be up to speed

Product Responsiveness
Using a wireframe helps teams to create a product that will adapt to any screen it is displayed on.

It helps understand the product’s experience from the viewpoint of the users and the clients, which helps design and developer teams to adjust the product scales according to the technological devices that will be used to access it.

Better Insight Overall
Wireframing is a cheap and cost-effective way to get better insight into the overall product, from its initial stages to the final touches.

The wireframe can be updated as the product becomes more expansive, and with its ability to simplify even the most complex additions, teams, clients and even the organization have a full picture at all times.

Improved Team Work
Wireframes are made to cater to any and every detail. This means all teams can work on the product at all times with full understanding.

The ease of wireframes also allows professionals to see weaknesses and flaws which their counterparts cannot see, saving on time and cost to amend the product in the later stages.

Wireframes: The Brilliant Process of Product Development

Wireframes allow teams to exert their absolute best towards a project. With its easy to understand characteristics, everyone is on board during the creation of the product, which saves time and opens up opportunities if improvement.

Using wireframes early on in the process has helped various organizations to create brilliant products that users have thoroughly enjoyed. And the best part about using wireframes is that they can be used by large teams and even individual designers who work on tablets!