Why wireframing is key to a successful website Feb 04, 2018
As the battle rages on between wireframe lovers and haters, the most important thing to consider when creating a website is your clients’ needs. The strongest argument for wireframes, in my opinion, is that dedicating the time to produce wireframes will help organize client’s thoughts and make the overall development process much smoother. There are cases where clients’ know exactly what they want in their website and it may be possible to skip wireframes; however, I would argue that even in those cases, the wireframe helps you, as the developer, to make sure your understanding of the vision matches that of the the client.
As a quick primer on wireframes, they are simply layouts, typically in black and white, depicting the elements, features, call-to-action (CTAs), and navigation on the site. This is not to be confused with a mood board (more on this in a different post), which defines color palettes, fonts, logos, and other design elements. The hardest part of using wireframes with clients is getting them to understand they should be looking at the wireframe simply as a blueprint. Many clients want to start applying mood board elements to get the overall feel for the site, but this distracts from the focus on site architecture.
Two major reasons for doing a wireframe in the first place:
Focus on site usability: A website that is unusable by a client’s customers is a failed website. If customers cannot easily navigate or have difficulty understanding what they are supposed to do (especially in e-commerce), this can have seriously negative effects including: excessive bounces rates and poor return on ad spend (ROAS).
Communicates website features: Effective communication between clients and developers is necessary to produce a quality website on-schedule and as expected. There are many terms used by developers to describe particular HTML elements and other features that clients may not know; however, seeing it visually in a wireframe can assist clients in knowing what to expect once the design elements are applied.
It is easy to want to skip wireframes because of the up-front time investment and what may seem like simple requirements from the client, but as all developers know, as a site is built, more and more features are added, generally referred to as scope creep. Scope creep and poorly planned site architecture will ultimately lead to poorly designed code, creating headaches down the road as making updates becomes progressively harder. For these reasons my recommendation is always to suck it up, put your big kid pants on and spend the time on the wireframe, it’ll make your life easier in the long run and lead to a more happy and satisfied client.
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