It’s tough to negotiate unfamiliar territory, especially when it comes to something that takes your investment. You want to hire someone to build your website, but you’re unfamiliar with all the jargon involved.
What CMS are you going to use? Do you need a site that’s fully accessible? You may not even know what Information Architecture means (or UX, for that matter). And then you hear the term, ‘wireframing’. That’s a weird word, you think. What am I doing, building a fence? But rest assured, if you hear the term wireframing, you can start feeling good about the company you’re working with.
Why should you feel good?
Anyone can throw big words around, and you should be careful not to get sucked into a scam. But after reading this, you’ll know exactly what wireframing is. And because of its vital component to any web design process, a developer’s mere mention of it will bring you great joy.
OK, so what is wireframing?
Wireframing is the process of creating the layout of a website. Much like an architect’s blueprint, it serves as the foundation for future construction. Designers then use this layout to create a functioning mock-up, which they’ll tweak until it becomes the solid prototype that they will end up presenting to you, the client. Thereon, you make your suggestions, voice your requests and eventually sign off on the design. Next thing you know, you have yourself a brand new, state-of-the art website!
How to create wireframes
Web designers use any number of different tools to build wireframes. They can use programs from the Adobe suite like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, or Fireworks. There are some easy-to-use online apps as well, like MockFlow and Visio, two of the most powerful tools out there.
Wireframing is a necessary step in any web design project and here’s why. Creating code and setting up the front end makes up the development process, but like anything, the final product is only as good as the planning that went into it. In the world of web design, the wireframe is the planning stage. Ideas are quickly implemented, critiqued and adjusted when their elements are easy to move around, like the simplicity of a black and white wireframe.
Why wireframing is an important phase
Websites that skip the wireframing step could end up getting stuck in the prototype process. Within that process lives a world of never-ending calibrations, a constant state of website limbo. If a developer decides to make a site by blindly jumping in, they’ll be spending most of their time just coding and tweaking everything. It’s a much more complicated process than the drag-and-drop nature of wireframing. Not only is it more tedious for the developer (if something needs to be re-constructed later on), but it also makes the project exponentially more expensive for you in the long run.
If you were feeling unsure about investing in a web design company that spends its time wireframing, just think back to this article. Building a website is a lot like building a house. The thicker the foundation, the sturdier the structure. And the sturdier the structure, the less you’ll have to worry about in the future.
Now that you know more about wireframing, you may consider trying it out for yourself. There are several free wireframing tools available online. It’ll help you gain perspective on the designing stages that are paramount in creating a great and reliable website.
Embedded image by adactio on flickr.
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