Designing a website is not an easy task if a UX designer does not pay attention to the entire layout of the system. In companies many times it happens that UX designers get frustrated with the client just because of the frequent request they get to change various things in an application.
The reason why the conflict arises between the stakeholder and the UX designer is just because of the lack of communication for the overall structure of the webpage. Wireframing solves this problem…(hey! What it is actually…??).
If you’re working in a small startup or new to the UX design process then this might be a new technical jargon for you. Basically, wireframes give you the overall structure of the webpage. It is the first stage in the UX design process and it gives you the vision for the entire layout and functionality of your website.
Wireframes allow you to organize your idea and gives clarity on how your final product should look like. You’ll determine how certain types of information should be displayed on every screen.
Getting bored with the theoretical concepts…??
Let’s dive into some practical details and learn to create wireframes. We will discuss some basic steps to create a good wireframe for your software design.
You can create a wireframe using two methods. You can use pen and paper or you can also take the help of some software such as Balsamiq(most popular), UXPin, InVision or, Wireframe.cc. You can explore these tools and experiment with them. You can choose any one of them you’re comfortable with.
Now let’s discuss some basic steps to create wireframes…
1. Do Your Own Research and Get Inspiration
Before you pick pen and paper and you jump directly into creating a wireframe do your own research. Gather requirements, understand your audience, create user personas, define use cases, and look into the market for the similar kind of product you’re going to design. This will help you in getting some inspiration and ideas.
Take a look at some examples of wireframes for a similar product to the one you’re designing. For example, If you’re designing any kind of entertainment website then do some research for a similar kind of website.
Browse through sites like Dribble and Behance to see what other designers have done. You don’t need to spend too much time on this. Explore these sites and get some ideas to design your own product. In case you’re designing a new feature or totally a different kind of product then also don’t be scared to research outside your domain.
2. List Out the Gathered Data for Quick Reference
From your research, you’ll have an idea of the quantitative and qualitative data various phases will produce. You’ll struggle with retaining and recalling all the data if you start creating your wireframe instantly.
It’s good to prepare a list or a cheat sheet for quick reference. This will help you in drawing out your wireframes quickly. Mentioned the requirements, personas, use cases, and other important stuff in your cheat sheet.
3. Don’t Forget to Map Out The User Flow
How many screens do you need to represent in your wireframe?
What flow you’re expecting from the user to follow?
Where your users will be coming from (which marketing channel) and where you want them to end up?
Make sure that you have the answer to all the above questions before you draw the wireframe for your software. If you’re a UX designer then you might be aware of the term user flow and information architecture.
Pay attention to the user flow in the entire architecture of your system. The architecture should be mapped in a way that users or customers do not face any issues while using your product. It is very frustrating for users to call customer service every time asking how to do something. So make sure that you create a smooth flow for the users on various pages of your application.
A smooth layout and architecture eventually attract users. It creates more satisfaction and trust from the user’s end. This results in the lower drop-off or drop-out rates which simply means happy customers, more revenues. So keep in mind that the entire architecture of the system can impact the revenue a company can generate.
4. The Building Blocks
Finally, we are on step 4 where you need to pick the pen and paper to create the wires on your frame (ahhh!….We know that you were waiting for too long to reach this stage). Start asking the following questions…
- What are the intended users and business goals when interacting with this page? In other words, what is the user want to achieve and what actions do the business want the user to complete? It can be anything. For example: Adding an item to a shopping cart.
- How can you organize the content to meet your user’s goals?
- Which information should be more prominent?
- What buttons or touchpoints does the user need in order to complete the desired actions?
- Where do you need to place a call-to-action?
- Where to place the main message and logo?
- What the users should see first when they land on the page?
- What does the user expect to see on certain areas of the page?
In wireframing you need to work on all the above questions. Remember that you just need to draw the building blocks of your webpage, so keep it simple. Outline and represent the features and formats and do not illustrate anything in detail. No need to think about aesthetics, color, or font size. You just need to focus on the functional block or the skeleton of your webpage.
You may have to do some variations in your wireframe. You can also take the help of fellow designers or product managers. When you’re wireframing keep in mind that you need to create something useful that meets your customer’s needs.
5. Filling in The Details
Once the flow is ready and you’ve got the foundation, take the next step, and upgrade your wireframe. Fill in the information or details in your wireframe. You can start from top to bottom then left to right.
What kind of details do I need to fill? (Ahhh….!!! we know that you’ll have these questions..)
At this stage, you need to define usability conventions such as putting the navigation at the top next to your logo or maybe placing a search box in the top right corner. Think about the spacing, layout, and information hierarchy. What information is most and least important? What are your calls-to-action?
Think about the images you want to include? Where you want to include them and what should be the size of the images? Include the trust-building elements. What do you need to build trust in your users and what should be the positioning of these elements?
After filling in the details you’re ready for the first user tests. Get feedback from your colleagues for the work you have done so far. If you get the time and resources consider conducting usability tests to highlight any big flaws that you might have missed.
Tips To Create a Good Wireframe
Throughout the entire wireframing process there are three big boxes you should be looking to tick…
1. Clear representation: Make sure that the entire layout of your software answer the questions given below…
- What the page is all about?
- What users can do there?
- Does the layout of the page satisfy the user needs?
- Can the user easily complete their desired actions without too much thought?
2. User confidence: User confidence is all about building trust in your brand through good design. Ease of navigation and clear calls to action make sure that the product interface is predictable and comfortable.
If your page is unpredictable with buttons and boxes in unexpected places, user confidence will rapidly sync. In your wireframe use familiar navigational processes and place buttons in commonly used and intuitive positions.
3. Simplicity: Simplicity is all about keeping out the noise. In your wireframe avoid information overload. Excessive content, links, and buttons can be really overwhelming and distracting for the user. Users will face a lot of issues, and they won’t be able to access the webpages smoothly. The user journey on your webpage should be as smooth and seamless as possible.
You need to make a decision carefully about the information you want to include on each screen. Remember wireframes are not about pretty colors and aesthetics. They are about intuitive and logical layout and good information hierarchy.