It’s pretty well established in the web design community that wireframes are an important part of planning a website and an essential step before diving into Photoshop. A wireframe is typically described as a skeleton or blueprint of a site, but everyone puts in a different level of attention and detail to their wireframes. While they shouldn’t be a gray scale version of the final design, they should have enough detail to actually be useful to the client and designer.
With no colors, typography or images a designer can focus on laying out information in a way best suited to the clients project. In order to take advantage of this phase, it’s important to put some extra time, effort and detail in the wireframes, thereby saving time and increasing a site’s usability. While a wireframe doesn’t need perfect alignment, shades of color or font size, it should be a fairly good representation of layout, information/fields and proportional size of elements.
Why Detail is Important
Even if more time is dedicated to make a wireframe detailed, it still takes considerably less time to create and edit than a full design.
- By spending some time in this early phase, time costly edits are avoided, for example, needing space for 20 testimonials in a small box instead of 3. Showing the client a bit more detail will help weed out small details that have not been discussed yet.
- While creating the wireframe, the designer will be able to focus on user interface. As a result the designer can focus on what information makes sense and how it can be organized to be easy for the user to sort through.
- With a detailed wireframe, the client will be able to focus on the usability and goals of the site to help the designer dial in the mesage. The designer will be able to prioritize the most important information and calls to action.
- The wireframe phase is a great time to see how elements are going to be used. Often a site will use the same element with different size constraints. The extra detail will reveal those sizes and elements can be made consistent throughout the site.
- A detailed wireframe is ready to be looked over by a team member to make sure everything makes sense. In addition, other departments can take a look as well to make sure everything is on track, is technologically possible and within the project’s scope.
When it comes down to it, a detailed wireframe is just good planning and preparation. The more detailed the wireframe, the more problems can be avoided and the better a site can dial in its usability.