Tsk….are you looking for The Ultimate Wireframing for Websites? The New Year is 2020, we have Agile and Lean UX methodologies – and you’re stuck using grayscale images to show off the schematics of your website.
It’s no wonder this outdated (and frankly unappealing) form of wireframing for websites has become part of the stone age. It was once effective when business-owners wanted to see a “final” version of their site before they signed off. However, as we’ve learned over the years, it can be difficult to pinpoint the necessity for ‘classic’ wireframing.
The need for a detailed throwaway deliverable seems to be over, and the age of highly-flexible and content-oriented planning has begun!
WHAT is WIREFRAMING FOR WEBSITES?
Now, before we get into the meat of this, let’s discuss: what are wireframes?
Wikipedia accurately defines them as “a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website…[It] depicts the page layout or arrangement of the website’s content, including interface elements and navigational systems.”
In layman’s terms, wireframes are simplified ‘sketches’ or ‘blueprints’ of how your site plans to look. They can be anything from a doodle on a napkin to an elaborate grayscale screenshot of your “new” website. Wireframes are created early in the design process. This allows for the designers to make changes and experiment with different designs.
They allow the creative team and stakeholders to plan and keep track of a project’s process properly.
THE PROBLEM WITH PREHISTORIC WIREFRAMING
Before we get into the negative side of classic wireframing, we need to discuss the necessity for it and why it has some valuable characteristics in web design.
First off, because of their visual nature, wireframing for websites make excellent tools for conceptualizing and exploring different design ideas. During the early stages of the design process, it’s not uncommon for a creative team and stakeholder to toss designs back and forth because they understand the importance of user experience for business websites.
The problem with traditional wireframes:
- They give no insight into the flow of content
- One has to be made for each screen size – to account for how customers will view the content
- It’s difficult for clients to envision them in their natural element. The context is wrong.
These aren’t new issues with wireframes, and there are a few ways around them. You can link wireframes together using programs like Powerpoint/Keynote, or you can create image maps in HTML. It’s simple enough to create wireframes for desktop and phones – hoping that it’s enough for the client to feel how something will work. And you can try and make wireframes look and feel like the way they’ll be seen. But all of that seems lazy.
STAGED WIREFRAMES – HOW WE DO IT
Staged wireframes are the best way to represent the new design. The idea of coding up your wireframes isn’t terribly new, there’ve been rumblings about it for a long time, but with the rise of rapid prototyping frameworks – it’s feasible to do (given the kind of time constraint you typically have with some clients).
With coded wireframes, you’re able to create a mock-up of a client’s site rather quickly and with a high degree of fidelity. There are two downsides that should be mentioned: you don’t have pixel-level control without a lot of extra effort. And adding in things like icons or less common widgets is not as simple.
SOME BENEFITS OF CODED WIREFRAMES
Significantly Better Feedback
We all thrive on feedback; it’s what makes us each project better. With coded wireframes, the feedback is uncomparable to that of a doodle on a static screen. The client can get a feel for the flow of content and have a much clearer picture of how the final website will work – not just what it will look like or the functions.
Testing Across Multiple Devices
We live in a world where your website needs to function properly on any device. Static wireframes can’t represent that kind of world – and coded wireframes absolutely can. Why must your clients imagine what their site will look like on other devices? Now, you can show them.
Often, our impression of your website is colored by how we view it. And, in this instance, that means the device it’s on. The feedback we’re looking for will vary depending on whether the user sees your site on a phone or a 20” display. Each device is different and each carries its own restrictions. Maybe tap areas are too small, or the layout looks weird on a large monitor. All the things we want to know.
SMARTER WIREFRAMES = BETTER WEBSITES
With technology shifting as it has been, we always recommend trying new techniques and processes. It won’t hurt to give coded wireframes the old college try – at the end of the day, our objective is to build the best website we can. The feedback is strong, the feel is real, and the final implementation will be smoother.
To begin projects the right way, it’s best to come to the experts. Contact us today to ask about our coded wireframes or to start your website on the right foot.