As a startup owner when you are trying to solve a problem for the target users, you know what user experience you want the product to deliver. But the idea of it, how do you know it is good enough for solving the specific problem? Wireframe helps you demonstrate your ideas for the UX and the user feedback help you understand how they interact with the design and whether the design serves its purpose.
With so many creative ideas running wild inside your head, you may skip a few steps of the design process and solely focus on the end product. You have a vision in mind but what you need to understand is that the foundation needs to be equally strong. You need a base, a structure on which you put on the interface and complete your product. And that is a wireframe!
What is a Wireframe?
A wireframe is a 2-dimensional depiction of the page’s interface of your product. It is a rough sketch or a diagram of the core functionality and features of the app or website UX design. Wireframing is done in the initial stage of the design process. It is one of the overlooked steps of the design process.
Wireframing is outlining the core functionalities of the product including the placement of elements like buttons, lists, and content, and the spacing between them. What features and buttons will go on which page is defined here?
It is the step before the prototyping where the user journey is defined. The wireframe creates the design structure and the user experience for your interface or website. It is the skeleton of the prototyping. It helps you see what you want your end product to look like.
Think of cars, like how they are built on a frame called the chassis. it becomes a base for the rest of the elements. Another example is the human body, the bones are the base of everything. More like you define what goes where.
After the wireframing and the prototype stage, you can see what the product looks like and how well it will function. Wireframes help you gain real-time feedback on your product UX design before stepping into the design process and the development part of it.
Why do you need wireframing as a start-up owner?
- Validating your idea
- User experience
- Making the design process iterative and efficient
- Information & site architecture
- Bringing everyone on the same page
- Time-saving on the project
Validating your ideas
With so many ideas on the table for the product, you would believe that they all are useful. But it is only when you create wireframes you will see how effective is the product ideation. As you are still in the initial stage of the design you can add or remove the features or elements.
Your decisions may get clouded by the graphical interfaces in a design layout and it may distract you from the core functionality of the product. With an unpolished framework, you can see how efficient each feature or element is and the content is placed well.
It will give you the time to rethink your ideas and get product validation. When starting a project you would think that the features you’ve listed are right. But it may not be the same when implemented on the wireframe. So a wireframe without any creative details will help in getting feedback on the sizing, spacing, and placement of the elements.
Let me make it a little easy, What if you reject or want to change a CTA button placement just because it was of green color and you don’t like that color in general? It will become biased but you need to see what works well for elevating the user experience. Your personal preferences may not always work for your product.
More importantly, you cannot make such changes when your design is completed. We all know how much it can cost when so many resources are invested in it. Hence, wireframing is not a step you want to skip in the design process.
When your primary concern is delivering an intuitive and smooth UX to the users then you should know that wireframing is the key. In the wireframing stage, you define the basic structure and the product’s functionality. Each of the elements you specify here will directly impact the user experience.
Without any graphics or decorative interface, you will observe whether the design can deliver functionality or not. Ultimately, the pretty interface alone will not suffice to drive the ROI you’re looking for. But building a UX wireframe will help you achieve it.
Making the design process iterative and efficient
Knowing the amount of time and the resources invested in your design, you don’t want to go through the whole process from scratch to make a change that could have been easily corrected by investing some time in wireframes. TBH design changes are inevitable. But what can help is building wireframes.
As a client, you wouldn’t care to wait for a little extra time for a redesign or making significant changes. But think of the designers and the developers. The theory will have to start from the beginning for a small change. That is not efficiency.
Well, wireframes allow you to test run the ideas and save a whole lot of time later in the final stages of the design process. Moreover, it allows designers to experience the features and functionalities. Making the process iterative by allowing space to make the changes if need be later on.
Info & site architecture
With the focus on the essential elements in the design with website wireframe. Thus, you can easily formulate the user flow. Navigation and information hierarchy are equally important for a sleek user experience.
Providing the information the user needs to complete the intended primary task helps create a smooth user journey. At the wireframing stage, you can see whether the content placement and the sizing are serving a smoother experience for the users.
Informational hierarchy plays an important role in user experience design. Here, both the information and site architecture are taken into account when wireframing. The sitemap is a checklist for the number of pages. Here the information flow and the user flow are taken into consideration. Also, this will help bring everyone on the same page.
From the navigation to the organizing of pages and their sub-pages, everything is brought to the forefront while building a wireframe. Constructing a sitemap is a bit tricky but wireframes can illustrate how effective it is. Website wireframe allows you to test run your complex and confusing flowchart. Wireframes make it easy to simplify site navigation.
If your product is content rich then you know that with time you will be required to update it to meet your business goals. For instance, if you’re an eCommerce site or application, initially you won’t have many products or pages but it will not stay the same for long, right? But with the growth of the company, you will need to expand the data and product range.
In the digital age, this becomes crucial. For this, you need to make sure the website or app design is scalable. This will ensure you don’t need to go through the hassle of a completely fresh product design. Moreover, you can simply update the content and data in the product design.
Bringing everyone on the same page
When building wireframes the assumptions and goals are put up on the table. This helps greatly to ensure that the client (you) and the design & development team are on the same page about the project. With wireframes, you’ll know you can trust them to deliver the results you want.
Sometimes explaining the ideas verbally or on paper won’t be enough to make the stakeholders understand your vision. But when they see it come to life with wireframing it can help them see what you see. Ultimately, you should know that one person’s ideation and vision will never suffice. Share the ideas with everyone involved in the project and address the feedback.
Time-saving on the project
The design process is not the easiest thing in the world. When you are building a product you must be patient in the beginning at least. Wireframing is a real-time saver when you look at the bigger picture. It is a bit time-consuming in the initial phase. But clears the communication between the agency and you.
Whatever requirements you’ve mentioned for the design will be slightly different in the designers’ minds than yours when not communicated clearly. When you build a website wireframe both parties know the site structure, placement of elements, and intended user flow. As the primary user experience has been defined it will be easier to clear off the ideas and validate them early on.
This will help you save a lot of time and resources on redesigning the whole product. Creating a design is no piece of the cake. It takes time and effort. And it demands expenditure. It will cost your time and money to not clear the ideas early on and make the changes after the usability testing in the final stages.
Moreover, as the process will take some time you will come across newer ideas and changes, if you make them clear while in the wireframing stage it would be to your advantage primarily.
What’s better than to validate your ideas so early on in the design process? Wireframes will push the product’s functionality and usability to the forefront. You get to illustrate the page layouts, elements, and their placements before moving to the final stages of design.
Wireframes give you the answer to two things i.e., how the design solves the problem you are addressing and whether the product ideation will work out for the users. It is only after you implement the ideas and get real-time feedback using the wireframes. There are some great wireframing tools available like the wireframe.cc, MockFlow and more.