What Is a Wireframe?

Before exploring these wireframing advantages in more detail, let’s pause for a minute to talk about what a wireframe is. A wireframe is a low-fidelity visual representation of a website’s layout design, sometimes referred to as a skeleton, outline or blueprint. Often, a wireframe represents the basic page layout structure and navigational scheme of the site’s pages, as well as major site components (like web forms and ad units).

Wireframing is an extremely important phase of the web development process. Before you see the results and traffic of your website through reports, step back and create a website that is user-friendly and well designed. While it’s tempting to skip this step and proceed from the design brief and information architecture directly into design, it pays huge dividends to create wireframes somewhere in between of conceptual site planning and actual development of a site. Wireframing will allow you to do several things far more efficiently, and the time and effort you put into this phase pays dividends in the greater scheme of things.

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As a UX/UI design newbie or expert, you must have heard about the term “wireframe” a lot. However, do you really exactly know what a wireframe is? Why should you create a wireframe? What wireframing tools do you need?

The purposes of wireframes

Wireframes replace the abstract nature of the sitemap, which is usually the first step in site development, with something more tangible and understandable. There are several interrelated purposes for wireframes:

Ensuring the site or app is built according to goals.

Seeing features clearly with minimal creative influence allows stakeholders to focus on other aspects of the project. Wireframing sets expectations about how features will be implemented by showing how features will work, where they will be located and how much benefit they'll provide. A feature may be pulled out because it doesn’t fit into your site's goals.

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Focusing on usability.

Wireframing provides an objective look at link names, paths to conversion, ease of use, navigation, and the placement of features. Wireframes help you identify flaws in site architecture or features and show you how well it flows from a user perspective.

Content growth capacity.

If you know your site will grow in the near future, your website needs to be able to accommodate that growth with minimal impact to the site architecture, usability, and design. Wireframing can reveal these important opportunities for content growth and how to fit them in.

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Feedback and painless iteration.

Instead of merging the full functionality, layout and creative elements into a single step, wireframes guarantee that these considerations are taken on separately. This allows stakeholders to provide feedback much sooner in the process. Creating wireframes using software makes the iterative process inherent in web design much less of a chore.

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