When it comes to building a great website for your company, creating a wireframe is an important step in the design process.
Your website’s wireframe is the blueprint you will use to build your site. It includes the pages, headings, and elements—types of content that will go in your final website design.
Some companies skip the website wireframing process altogether in the interest of time. But creating a wireframe upfront can save you time down the line, ensure a cohesive site design, and provide numerous other benefits. In our opinion, it’s an unskippable step.
Here’s everything you need to know about wireframing a website.
What Is A Wireframe?
A website wireframe is a map that details the main features and navigation in a digital product, such as a website. It allows website designers to visualize the web page layout before determining the graphical elements, color scheme, typeface, and longer written content that will appear in the final version.
Wireframes can include as much or as little detail as you see fit. In their simplest forms (low-fidelity wireframes), they include short phrases to describe the following:
- Home page
- Service pages
- About page
- Contact page
- Additional web pages
- Calls to action
- Headers on each page
- Each page’s content
- Website footer
The more detail you include in a wireframe, the faster you can implement those details to finalize the website. However, adding too much detail upfront can also waste your time if you decide to make significant changes to the wireframe template.
We recommend starting with a more basic design, then making adjustments to transition it to a high-fidelity mockup after user interaction and usability testing.
How Wireframe Helps You Create A Better Web Design?
Website wireframes play several important roles in the web design process. Here are a few ways creating wireframes can help you produce a better web design:
Breaks Down the Design Process
Designing a website can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re visualizing the end goal. But wireframing makes the process more iterative.
Instead of throwing all of the content, UX design elements, pages, and images on the website at one time and trying to make all of the pieces work, you can design your site more intuitively.
Highlights Your Website’s Navigation
Your website’s navigation, or the steps users must take to get from page to page and find the content they’re looking for, is a vital component of user experience.
You want your website visitors to easily locate information that convinces them to hire your company. You don’t want your site to be clunky, slow, or challenging to navigate on desktop or mobile devices.
When you create a website wireframe, you can isolate your website’s navigation and evaluate its effectiveness before proceeding with the web design. This process allows you to prioritize navigation without becoming distracted by your site’s visual representation and branding elements.
Allows You to Gather Feedback
Whether you’re designing your website with the assistance of multiple team members or want an expert to review your layout before proceeding, a wireframe allows you to gather feedback about your design.
You can show your team members the bare-bones framework of your website and ask for feedback and advice before putting too much work into the site’s design. You can also quickly rearrange, alter, or delete sections of the website without losing hours or days of work.
Important Factors When You Create A Website’s Wireframe
Before you nail down your website’s wireframe, you must consider a few factors that should shape your wireframe and your finished product. These include the following:
Simply explaining your products or services on your website isn’t enough to convince visitors to become customers. Instead, you need to approach your site strategically using tried-and-true marketing strategies. One is developing a brand story.
Your brand story can help visitors understand how your products or services will help simplify their lives, solve a problem they’re experiencing, or meet other high-level goals. It includes a seven-part framework:
- A character (i.e., your customer)
- With a problem
- Meets a guide (i.e., your business)
- Who gives them a strategy (including your products or services)
- That calls them to action (i.e., the action they should take immediately upon visiting your site)
- That leads to success (i.e., the benefits your products or services can bring)
- And helps them avoid failure
Once you develop your brand story, you can use these tenets to shape your website’s user flow and wireframe.
Goal Of The Website
The elements on your website should lead toward a central goal. What do you want your website visitors to do upon visiting your site? While your overarching goal may be to convert visitors into customers, you may have smaller goals as well, such as convincing visitors to call your company for a free consultation or estimate.
You should also consider what your actual site should be able to do before designing the wireframe. For example, you may want to include a form your visitors can fill out to receive more information. If you provide quotes to potential customers, your website may include an estimate tool that visitors can use to determine their costs.
Identifying your site’s functionalities upfront can help you shape your website’s wireframe design around these elements.
Other Things You Need To Take Note Of
While creating a website wireframe may seem simple enough, you can easily go astray in this process as well. Here are a few tips to help you create an effective wireframe:
Check Your Competitors
If you’re unsure where to start in creating mockups of your site’s user flow, you can always check out your competitors’ websites. Doing so can give you a starting point for designing your own website. It can also help you understand what elements to enhance in your UX design to make your website even better.
Focus On The UX, Not The Design
The purpose of your wireframe should be to map out your site’s user experience and consider the foundational elements to include in the actual site. It isn’t to plan the actual website design.
Your site’s design elements — such as the color scheme, branding elements, graphical elements, typeface, and actual content — can come later. Right now, the most important step is creating the basic foundation. You can always include image placeholders and notes about the layout to flesh it out later.
Simplicity & Clarity
Your website wireframe doesn’t need to be overly complex. While you can create multiple wireframes throughout the wireframing process, your first draft should only include the very basic functionality of your site. Your high-fidelity prototypes can include more detail.
Best Tools To Wireframe A Website
Some web designers begin with hand-sketched wireframes during their initial design processes, but we have found that using digital tools makes the process much faster. Here are a few of the best wireframe tools that can simplify your process.
Adobe XD is the program we use at Connective to create wireframes for clients. This tool lets us make quick mockups using powerful design tools, templates, and prebuilt wireframing elements.
Figma is a collaborative interface design tool. This program includes a free wireframe kit filled with user interface (UI) elements for low-fidelity wireframing. It’s best for designing a wireframe with multiple people on different devices.
Sketch is a vector graphics editor that allows for collaborative design and prototyping. This Mac-based software makes wireframing websites simple.
Wireframe.cc is a free, online wireframing tool built specifically for creating wireframes. This site is one of the most straightforward wireframing tools, as it contains no unnecessary features that could distract you or slow down your process.
How Connective Does It?
At Connective, wireframe design is the first stage in our website design process for new client websites. We’ve narrowed wireframing down to a science, allowing us to create a polished design that exceeds clients’ expectations every time.
Here’s our process for wireframing new websites.
We begin our wireframing process with a client intake session. During this session, we gather the following information about the website:
What’s The Goal Of The Client
First, we discuss the client’s goals for the site. These goals may include actions they want visitors to take and visions they have for the site. If they like the layout of certain websites, we’ll take note of those pages to include in our wireframe design.
What Does The Client want the Page To Do
We’ll also discuss the client’s functionality goals for the site. Often, clients don’t exactly know what they want their site to do. We can show examples here of other websites we’ve created and ask if any specific elements catch their attention.
We must also understand the website’s target user base to shape the user flow toward that audience. For example, if the client is a law firm targeting personal injury clients, every element of the site should simplify that one user flow.
We may also discuss the target user’s motivation for visiting the website and how we can shape the wireframe to meet the potential customer’s needs.
Create A Homepage Outline
A website’s homepage is paramount to its overall success. As a result, we spend ample time designing each site’s homepage. Here’s how we create a homepage outline to include in the high-fidelity wireframe.
Mapping Out The Header
We begin by planning the website’s header, which is the bar at the top of the page that aids the user’s navigation through the site. The header may include buttons for different service pages, drop-down bars, or several other elements. Creating the header allows us to pinpoint the pages to include in the rest of the layout.
The first section of the homepage is the hero area, which details the problem a potential visitor may be facing that the business can help solve. This section includes a headline, a few paragraphs of content, call-to-action buttons, and a visual element.
The second homepage section provides information about the business, including reasons why a visitor may choose this business over competitors. It showcases the business’s capacity to understand and address the visitor’s problems.
The third section details the business’s services, providing more detailed information about how the company will solve the visitor’s problems. This section may include bullet points or subsections briefly describing each service.
Depending on the business and its goals for the website, the homepage may include several other sections. For example, the business may want to show past projects or case study results to showcase its expertise. It may also want a contact form that visitors can use to submit requests for more information.
Mapping Out The Footer
A website’s footer typically includes the business’s logo, contact information, tagline, copyright information, and a few links to web pages. In some cases, the footer is a reflection of the header.
Finally, Creating The Wireframe
Once we’ve mapped out the homepage, we can continue designing the page layouts for the rest of the website. This wireframing stage usually involves three to four drafts.
We’ll start with a low-fidelity version of the wireframe, then invite the client to provide feedback through an approval process. We’ll also complete several rounds of user testing. Then, we’ll create different layouts and adjustments until we’ve settled on a final design.
Here are the elements we’ll include when we create a wireframe:
The website header gives visitors direction and assists with user flows. This visual design can include any of the following elements, depending on the client’s needs:
- Links to the pages in the website
- Buttons for a login function
- Buttons for a cart function
- A list of services the company provides
- A mega menu
The header will be present on each page of the website. We’ll make sure it makes sense for various user journeys through the site and always enable users to return to the homepage quickly.
The 1st Section
The first section in the wireframe includes information about the brand message, including the hero’s problem and the company’s capacity and plan to solve that problem. In the wireframe, the first section typically specifies the heading, call to action placements, and other elements of the brand message.
When we create a wireframe, we typically include actual text as a placeholder for future content. Using “Loreum Ipsum” text enables us to map out the site’s visual design more precisely without needing to write the content ahead of time.
The 2nd Section
The second section provides more information about the company. It may include a rough outline of the content that will end up on the website’s About Us page, such as:
- “Our goals”
- “Our history”
- “Our team”
These elements give a business credibility, humanize the business, and further detail how the business can solve the visitor’s problem.
The 3rd Section
The third section provides more detail about why the business is the best choice. It may include unique selling points (USPs) about the business, the company’s core values, and testimonials from past and current customers. Ideally, this section contains a different format than the second section.
The Next Sections
Our wireframes typically contain one section for every service or type of product the client offers. Within each section, we provide a rough outline of the information to include about that service that would convince a reader to hire the company.
Outside of service sections, we may also include sections for special website pages, such as portfolios or blogs. We’ll pinpoint the relevant images and information to include in the site, leaving out unnecessary details that could bore the visitor.
Finally, we’ll map out the website’s footer. This section is at the very bottom of the page. It sometimes contains the same information as the header, but it may include additional elements as well, such as:
- A link to sign up for the newsletter
- A contact form to reach out to the business
- Other calls to action
- Contact information
We’ll include an initial layout of the footer in the wireframe, then fine-tune this design in the actual website.
Creating a wireframe is a crucial step in designing a website that optimizes each user’s experience and convinces them to act.
Without a wireframe, you may waste time trying to piece together your site design while searching for actual images and creating written content at the same time. Instead, your wireframe can provide a foundation on which to build your website more intuitively.
You can use several online tools to create digital wireframes. However, if you’d rather leave this process to the pros, we’d be happy to help.
At Connective, we have extensive experience designing websites that optimize user flows, guide users through the brand story, and convince them to become customers. Contact us today at 888-831-6095 to learn more about our web design services.