Wireframing is, undoubtedly, essential as well as the first step when it comes to designing. It’s a concept that gives proper wings and shapes to your ideas. Although the entire concept of wireframing may look an easy task, still, it can be done poorly, which may leave a bad impact on your final output.
Since they are quite simple, it is necessary to be cognizant with wireframing best practices to create something sophisticated. If you are well-versed with them, you’d know that they are kind of blueprints for web apps and websites.
Generally, these wireframes are meant to emphasize the necessary information, including usability, information architecture, user behavior, and interactions. Thus, to get the best output, here are some wireframing dos and don’ts that you must keep in mind.
Wireframing Do’s and Don’ts:
1. Do Determine the Audience & Goals:
The first and foremost step that you should be taking with wireframing is conducting thorough research. While executing this research part, keep your users in mind. You must understand their requirements, pain points and goals.
Without understanding your customers, you wouldn’t have any idea of how big your target market is or what are the potential ways to reach out to them. Once done, then start building your wireframe structure on a sturdy foundation.
Not just that, but you must also be wary of your product goals. With a precise wireframe, you’d be able to prioritize your goals easily once you have understood every aspect of them. For the success of your product, this step is crucial.
2. Don’t Add Colors:
In a way, colors aren’t going to provide any benefit but distract you from the wireframe purpose. Instead of using vivacious and striking colors, you can utilize white, black, and different shades of gray.
However, use these colors only at the time to highlight elements that require showing light and shading contrast. Generally, contrasts that are used in the wireframing structure may communicate in the phase of visual designing phase when the designer selects colors.
Therefore, you must have a purpose. In every process step, consistency should matter the most. And thus, keep it a priority.
3. Do Make it Responsive:
One of the best wireframing tips that you could get is this one. Making the wireframe structure responsive is vital. The moment you think of beginning the process of wireframe, consider the mobile aspect.
Knowing the types of devices your target audience is using will help you generate better outcome out of your efforts and time. Also, it would be far easier for you to enhance a mobile design as compared to scaling down a design meant for desktop.
Since different screen sizes are going to affect the overall layout of wireframing, hence, you must have a significant plan for different devices. So, before beginning, think of creating mobile wireframes and make use of the idea to its best.
4. Don’t Use Images:
When you research and look out at wireframe examples, you are sure to find several sophisticated ones. However, one significant thing that you may notice in the best of them is no usage of unnecessary images.
Just like colors, you should avoid the usage of images in wireframing structure. The primary reason behind this would be to avoid distraction. Instead of using real images, you can show an image placeholder to describe that an image has to go to that place.
For the initial phase, you can easily workout with image placeholders. Once the design is approved and ready, you can wait for the beginning of the visual design phase to bring out attractive visuals.
5. Do Focus on Interaction & Functionality:
While creating wireframes, even if you aren’t paying the utmost attention of visual elements, it won’t cause any hassles. However, you must be focusing more on the interaction part. It is essential to know how your users are going to interact with the website.
What reaction are they going to get after clicking a particular button? What will they be anticipating after clicking a specific link? Are you adding some context that can avoid confusion instantly? Pondering upon questions like these are important. Hence, it is necessary to create flowcharts and understand how the final flow will look like in the finished design.
The best thing that you could do with a wireframe is not messing up with its visual clarity. While adding colors to a website is important, however, when those colors start interfering with the purpose of wireframe, it becomes a graphic mockup and not what you want it to be. Therefore, you must focus on the functionality as well as the interaction aspect.
6. Don’t Try to Make it Look Pretty:
Another thing that you must not do is decorate your wireframe to make it look beautiful. Since they aren’t designed mocks, you don’t have to try and make them look like a finished product already. While designing them, you must remember that a wireframe is a tool that lets you understand information of pages and not interaction or visual design.
While you only focus on the attractiveness, you may be successful in creating a polished structure, but it might not be solution-oriented. Therefore, try and only put efforts to make the wireframe useful.
Your wireframes should be able to connect your audience with ideas seamlessly. It should also be inviting conversation. So, leave the interaction design and visual part to the later stage and concentrate only on the foundation.
7. Do Testing Early & Often Is Important:
When thinking about how to create wireframes, you must also stress enough on the testing aspect. Not just on your own, but you should also conduct repetitive tests of wireframes with people around. If it is impossible for you to get real users for testing, you can ask unbiased ones for help.
The primary point of this activity would be to ensure that the structure is making sense for your target audience. You don’t have to wait until you are ready with the final version. It would be recommended to test throughout the process.
This testing early and often part will help you explore various user experiences and discover or develop such experiences that may seem hopeful. Also, this testing period will also help you spot primary issues with the design.
8. Don’t Get Attached:
No matter what, you must not get too attached to your wireframe. Always prepare yourself to discard the wires. Of course, it isn’t going to be easy for you to simply move on from a structure on which you’ve spent a lot of time.
However, it is quite important. You must remember to toss away the wireframe. However, before that, you must try different types of options, whether it is ten times or 100 times. Once you have selected the option that you liked the most, use that as a foundation for the prototype and let others go.
9. Do Explain Its Purpose:
You cannot expect your audience, which comprises no one but laypeople, to understand the concept of a wireframe. Undeniably, they wouldn’t know a thing about it. Therefore, you’d have to take the step and make them familiar with it.
You must explain to them that wireframe isn’t the final thing, but this is how the design is going to look like. Your audience must understand that the wireframe is meant to describe your organization, website structure, as well as the anticipated interactions.
This entire explanation will help you get better feedback at this stage, which you can use to enhance your design better.
10. Don’t Begin with Digital Tools:
There is no denying the fact that digital wireframing and prototyping tools have made lives easier. Processes that used to take hours earlier now can be accomplished in less time with several types of digital tools. However, when it comes to wireframing, you must not begin with these tools directly.
While it may seem like a great idea, it’s always recommended to start with a pen and a paper first. So, try sketching your ideas on a piece of paper. Once you are done with it and have finalized the design, then you can shift to digital tools for creating a wireframe.
For UX designers, wireframing is an important skill. And, just like any other type of skill, you can enhance this proficiency as well with wireframing best practices. The key factor here would be practice. The more you are going to practice wireframing, the better you will get. Therefore, next time you begin a project, take some time out for wireframing. With some time investment in the early stages, you can save a lot of efforts later.