Website Wire-framing: The Complete Guide


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Even if you are sketching on paper, designers wireframe their designs. This allows clients to visualize your ideas more effectively than if they only hear you describe them verbally.

Marketing goes beyond billboards and direct mail. Or, they’ll move on to another agency. Wireframing plays an essential role.

This guide will show you how to create website wireframes.

Why wireframe your web designs

Wireframing is the first stage of the design process. This will allow you to clarify the pages that are required and help ensure that your client gets the most from their online marketing efforts.

A basic wireframe can help you ensure your designs are responsive to all page elements.

Wireframes are also cost-effective and can be used to save time when revising high-fidelity comps. Wireframes will provide a solid foundation and a great place to start your page layouts.

Wireframe vs. Mockup vs. Prototype

While wireframes and prototypes may sometimes be interchangeable with mockups, they are still distinct entities. There are occasions when they overlap.

Wireframes represent the basic design of the website’s structure and parts. 

Mockups focus on the visual elements of a site.

Mockups can often be very similar to or identical to the final site design. These mockups include all typography and graphics.

Prototypes are semi-functional web layouts. They can be created from a comp or mockup and include the user interface. These prototypes are usually constructed with HTML/CSS (and JavaScript, to demonstrate how the front-end interface functions ).

This stage involves the design of the site’s business logic. 

Wireframes were the first.

It all depends on the type of site that you are building. You may need prototypes or mockup models if you are creating a web application.

How do you create a wireframe?

A wireframe can be as simple or as complex as you want. Other “wireframes”, also digitally created, look more like prototypes but have limited functionality.

A wireframe is usually simple to create for websites with just a few pages. For more complicated websites, such as one for a college, it is easier to create a wireframe. However, wireframes for more complex sites will be more difficult.

What should I include in a Wireframe?

The wireframes should contain enough information to clearly show what content should be on each page of your website. Sidebars, content areas, and navigation bars are important.

Now that you have an idea of what content you want for your website, you can start creating wireframes. Your wireframe should only be used as a guideline.

It should be formal if more than one designer or developer will use the design, or if it is being presented to your client

Low-Fidelity wireframes Vs. High-Fidelity Wireframes

There are many options for wireframe design. These wireframes can be hand-drawn, or digitally. 

Wireframes that include high-fidelity (hi-fi)design elements go one step further than the standard wireframe.

This can include the logo or other basic graphics as well as the color scheme and any other design elements. Clients who have trouble visualizing the site on a low-fidelity wireframe can use this tool.

Wireframing Techniques

You can create wireframes in many different ways. You can create wireframes in many different ways. It all depends on the requirements of the individual designer as well as the project.

UXmatters has a great article on how to wireframe using Adobe InDesign and Illustrator. 

He describes the entire process of creating wireframes, from drawing on paper to using Illustrator to create a grayscale wireframe. This article will help site owners, developers, designers, and all other stakeholders make wireframing more simple.

20 steps to better wireframing Think Vitamin explains in 20 steps how to create better wireframing.

The Wireframing Process

While the process may vary from person to person, there are some steps you can follow to create a wireframe. Some designers might jump in and add to their wireframes using an app or drawing on paper.

Some prefer to start with a large view of the overall design, and then move to software to add details. 

Some people just go for the software. Other people stick with wireframes created from hand-drawn papers. Formats can be changed if needed.

You will want to try out different ideas before you decide on a design. You can make adjustments and try new ideas.

After you’re satisfied with the wireframe, you can either give it to your client for feedback or create mockups from it.

Tools for Wireframing

There are many tools for wireframing. It is up to you and your project needs to decide which tools you use. 

There’s no “best” wireframe tool. It is all about what you like and what you feel most comfortable with.

Pen and Paper

You will need a pencil or pen to create a wireframe. Gridlines are useful to make elements proportional.

You might use a pencil for your first sketches to erase any mistakes and not have them all over again.

As you are done, trace the parts using a pen. You can then trace over the parts with a pen as you finish them. One color, for example, can be used to identify items on your wireframe as they move between pages.

To simplify paper wireframing, use Postit or Sticky notes. You can easily rearrange design elements, without having to redraw the whole thing.

Web-Based Tools

Much web-based wireframing software allows you to share wireframes with clients and team members. 

Mockingbird works with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Firefox. Mockingbird also offers many unique features, including automatic text resizing. A mockingbird can adjust the button’s size and type to match the text. It also allows you to create wireframes for multiple pages using links.

Lovely Charts are great for wireframes and a wide variety of other charts. It is intuitive and drag-and-drop-friendly, making it easy to use. To help you create charts quicker, it makes assumptions based on the type of chart that you are creating.

Cacoo, an online wireframing tool that uses drag-and-drop elements, speeds up the process. Anyone can access your URL to publish your wireframes. An SSL connection is required to edit and manage wireframes. Lumzy

Lumzy does more than wireframing. Lumzy can also be used for prototyping, with all-featured capabilities that enable you to add events, place controls into other containers, and simulate your final project using triggers.

Live chat is also available to edit and collaborate on images. Jumpstart

Jumpstart is great for prototyping and wireframing. Jumpstart has many tools that can show page hierarchy and relationships.

Jumpstart lets you export your complete prototype to WordPress (with a premium version). Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups was created to recreate the experience of creating wireframes. Balsamiq Mockups are more like sketches than formal designs. It maintains the analogy of drawing wireframes on paper.

Google Drawings is just starting to gain popularity as a wireframing tool. You can add text to predefined shapes.

This tool is very useful as it allows you to create wireframes and share them online. 

JustProto is a tool that can be used for prototyping desktop and web apps. It can also be used as a wireframe.

In wireframes, you can use more than 200 icons and banners. To avoid repetitive work, you can also create master pages. The paid plans cost $19/month.

Creately allows you to create diagrams using a variety of shapes and objects. It also has a drag-and-drop drawing interface.

It also contains many collaboration tools like URL publishing and versioning.

Desktop Apps and Hybrid

While most desktop wireframing apps allow you to share wireframes with your team, some require that others download additional software. Or wireframes cannot be shared as flat images. This makes it more difficult to edit team wireframes.

MockFlow is an online/offline hybrid app that allows you to create wireframes and collaborate with others.

There are many mockup elements and publishing options available, including PowerPoint export and Adobe PDF. 

iPlotz is another hybrid online/offline service that has a downloadable desktop client.

It allows collaboration and project management, making it a great choice for teams. The desktop app is $75.

Pencil is a Firefox plug-in for creating wireframes or prototypes. It has an on-screen editor with rich text format support, export to HTML, PNG, and other file formats, as well as built-in stencils. Because it’s a Firefox plugin, it’s operating-system-independent.

Pencil can be downloaded standalone for Windows or Linux.

Prototype Creator allows you to quickly create prototypes of web apps. Create usable apps that closely match the user experience.

There is a choice of two editions: Community (free) and Professional (free).

HTML Wireframes

Use HTML and CSS to create wireframes Quickly turn your wireframes into prototypes or mockups

But wireframing with HTML can give you an edge in the design and coding process. HTML wireframing uses HTML-based wireframing.

Wireframing templates

Using templates and stencils can help speed up the wireframe process, especially if you are using pen and paper or another program that isn’t specifically for wireframing such as Adobe Illustrator.

Wireframes are useful for guiding you through the design

This is a great way to visualize the design of your website. Wireframing can be used quickly and cost-effectively.

The design specifications documents can help you identify the elements that are required for your website. Here you can experiment with non-traditional ideas.

This is just a wireframe. If you make mistakes or fail to complete the task, it doesn’t matter. Then tear the paper up and put it in the recycling bin.

Don’t let your imagination and inhibitions stop you from expressing yourself at this stage.

Wireframes can be used as a project deliverable

Clients can find it very useful to present wireframes. Wireframes show that you are a skilled worker.

You should invoice for any extra time wireframes take up during your design process. Unless the client requests otherwise, wireframes should be professionally designed using the tools described above.

Polished vs. Sketchy

One of the most important things to consider when creating wireframes for deliverables is their polish. Clients are more likely to request changes to a polished wireframe. A wireframe written in a rough style is more formal and likely to get honest feedback.

Clients can visualize their website layout with a polished wireframe. Your client may not give honest feedback once they feel that the project is complete.

Sketchy wireframes on the other side look more like “rough ideas” and invite clients to give feedback.

Clients who are not visually oriented, or creative, or do not know what wireframes refer to may have difficulty visualizing the site’s appearance. They might also be confused as to why the site looks handcrafted.

Some people like to mix sketchy and polished wireframing styles. A mood board gives an idea about the color scheme and typography.

Wireframing Resources

This guide ends with a few web resources dedicated to wireframing design. I Heart Wireframes Flickr Group

I Heart Wireframes – A Flickr group that showcases a variety of wireframes from designers around the world. 

This Tumblr Blog features exceptional wireframes from all over the globe. It is also associated with the I Heart Wireframes Flickr Group.

Wireframe Showcase displays wireframes and finished designs. Wireframes magazine

Wireframes Magazine covers all things wireframe, from templates and examples to inspiration and advice.

Web.without.words employs an antipodal approach to wireframing. They show a new site each week and reverse-engineer the wireframe by blocking out actual contents.

About the author

Kobe Digital is a unified team of performance marketing, design, and video production experts. Our mastery of these disciplines is what makes us effective. Our ability to integrate them seamlessly is what makes us unique.