Wireframing: Main Principles and Examples

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Whether you’re a UI/UX designer or simply want to have a digital product created, you need to get closer acquainted with the concept of wireframing. Wireframes are the kernel of user experience design that helps designers, coders, and clients stay on the same page regarding the future appearance, structure, and functionality of the product in question. Here is a detailed guide on wireframing, with its key principles, types, and purposes explained in detail. 

What Is a Wireframe? 

Let’s start with the basics – what can we define as a wireframe? This UX design concept refers to a two-dimensional skeletal structure, or sketch, of the web page or app’s interface. These skeletal structures give a clear view of the page’s layout and architecture of data blocks’ positioning on it. Thus, the review of a wireframe can help any participant of the development process understand what the user flow will be, what intended behavior the app/page targets, and what functions the user will have on it. 

what is a wireframe

Source: from Balsamiq 

Wireframe Types 

Wireframes are distinguished based on the degree of their fidelity, or detailing. Thus, a low-fidelity sketch will present only the basic information on it, such as the page structure and blocks. If we talk about a YouTube page sample, we would have only a large block with VIDEO to the left and a set of smaller blocks with SUGGESTED VIDEOS to the right. 

Mid-fidelity wireframes present much more data about the page’s layout and functionality. As a rule, they already contain provisional titles of the sections, indicate where various bits of data will be placed, and exhibit the fonts and styles of content. 

As the name suggests, high-fidelity wireframes contain the final look of the developed app or web resource. They are colored, render the unique product concept, reflect the original style of a new product, and give an idea of graphics included in the final version. 

Why Use Wireframes?

The role of wireframing is critical in the world of UX design. 

  • It is a preliminary version of the intended page design, which allows making changes early at the onset of the development process. Thus, it helps avoid costly adjustments at later stages. 
  • Wireframes precede code creation, thus giving space for discussion and making the process of web development more efficient.
  • Wireframing is a quick and simple way to experiment with layouts and find an optimal solution for a user-friendly, sleek web design. 

Thus, it’s recommended not to neglect the wireframing stage. It will save you much time, money, and nerves for later adjustments and revisions. 

Top 6 Principles of Creating a Successful UI Wireframe 

Here are the secrets to successful wireframing you can use to achieve mutual understanding with your development team or clients. 

#1 Figure Out the Problem 

The first task to accomplish during wireframing is to understand what pain or problem your digital product will solve for the clients. People will buy or adopt it if they see a workable solution. Thus, the display of that solution should be the cornerstone of your initial design.

#2 Keep the User in Mind 

Next, think about the end-user you target with that app or website. What do your users need? What are their goals and purposes for using your product? Empathy to the users and a desire to help them lie at the heart of any successful design, and that’s what you need to achieve. 

#3 Consider Alternatives 

Wireframes are a low-risk stage of web development, meaning that you can create hundreds of them before finding the right design solution. Explore ideas, don’t be afraid to experiment, check some bold guesses, and look for innovative features. The power of divergent thinking is in your hands, and the outcome of such creative work will be a unique design that customers will love. 

#4 Drop the Details 

When you’re at the wireframing stage, details don’t really matter. You can produce only skeletal sketches to show the backbone of the planned design and present it to the team for discussion. Detailing takes time and effort, which you shouldn’t waste at this phase. Your main goal is to provide the team with alternatives and collect feedback, refining these results further on. 

#5 Focus on Functionality 

With so many tools and techniques for web design, the temptation to create something exceptionally sophisticated is huge. Still, we recommend forgetting about this approach. Your users need functionality, which means they need to understand what to do to get the expected result. This clarity is the secret sauce of sleek design and high-resolution imagery to attract users. However, features and menu stand no fanciful designs and additions; keep them as simple as possible. 

#6 Do Your UI Homework 

No matter how innovative and unusual your new product is, it has to follow common sense principles. In the web design world, it is the UI controls and elements that users are accustomed to. Don’t break those rules as they can hinder your resource’s functionality, pushing the puzzled users away. 

Some Successful Examples

Let’s consider a couple of wireframe examples to explain what we mean. Here, you can see a web page’s wireframe presenting all major elements of the UI of the resource under development. The images and text are schematically presented, with social media icons and the search tab conveniently placed at the bottom of the page. In the upper-right corner, the user is given two switches for product-specific purposes, while the top part of the wireframe displays a spot for video streaming. Thus, even an inexperienced user can see whether the primary controls are located, having a chance to evaluate the functionality of this prototype. 

wireframe example 1

Source: Cacoo 

Another example displays two wireframes for a single source, giving the development team options for consideration. The left-hand option has a horizontal layout for data below the major block, and the right-hand variant gives a vertical layout option. 

wireframe example 2

Source: from UXPlanet 

Final Tips 

Now that you use what wireframing is and how to apply it, we advise using the tips we’ve laid out here as a handy crib for your future web design projects. As a designer or customer, you need to keep usability in mind and make the development process cost-effective. Let wireframes become your secret weapon in this process. 

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