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What is wireframing? How to create a website wireframe and the best tools to use

By Academy Xi

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Are you new to the world of wireframing? Learn how to use wireframing and the latest software, so you can do web design and UX the right way.

What Is Wireframing?

For the sake of simplicity, think of wireframing as a bit like creating an architectural blueprint for a new building. A wireframe is a basic, two-dimensional visual plan for the layout of a website, app, or digital product. 

Product Designers, Web Designers and UX Designers use wireframing to arrange and prioritise the features of a design, giving them a clear picture of how its users will interact with it. 

There are many different types of wireframe (we’ll cover them in a bit), but the most common form is a low-fidelity sketch. This kind of wireframe only depicts the design’s functionality, without incorporating any stylistic features. This means many wireframes look incredibly simple, with only grey colour schemes, placeholders for images and ‘lorem ipsum’ for text.  

What is a website wireframe

What is a website wireframe?

Creating a website wireframe involves planning the structural framework of a website’s pages. Various teams use website wireframes to align on the layout, user flow and information architecture that a website will entail. 

As well as guiding the web design process at a structural level, website wireframes can be stylised, showcasing the user-facing elements of each page, including design features, colour palettes and other forms of visual content.

Website wireframing is normally an iterative process, which involves producing multiple wireframes (or prototypes), before a final design template is agreed upon.  

Why create a website wireframe? 

There are a number of benefits that come with creating website wireframes. Most importantly, they ensure cross-functional teams are on the same page before the web development process begins.

Some of the other organisational benefits that a website wireframe offers include:

  • It clarifies the overarching goals of a website and streamlines the design process
  • It documents the team’s decisions about which functionality and content to prioritise
  • It clarifies how users will interact with the website and offers the chance to optimise the UX
  • It documents how various aspects of the website will connect and establishes consistent ways of displaying content
  • It allows teams to share the design with clients and stakeholders before the website is built

What are the different types of wireframes?

Now you’re well and truly sold on the value of a wireframe, maybe it’s time to make one for yourself? Before you rush off and start designing, it’s wise to figure out which type of wireframe best suits your project. The most common types of wireframe include: 

  • Low-fidelity wireframes

Low-fidelity wireframes are normally just quick, simple designs that make ideas more tangible. Low-fidelity wireframes are usually black and white sketches that focus on the ‘big picture’ of a website’s layout. UI elements are usually depicted as boxes and lines without any details.

  • Mid-fidelity wireframes

A mid-fidelity wireframe is a step up from its low-fidelity counterpart. Mid-fidelity wireframes will have more detail, including accurate spacing, headlines, banners and buttons. The page designs might even be displayed in a sequence, called a wireflow, illustrating exactly how the whole website will fit together.

  • High-fidelity wireframes

A high-fidelity wireframe captures the look and feel of a website in the advanced stages of the design process. Hi-fidelity wireframes go beyond the placeholders and lorem ipsum text of low-fidelity wireframes, specifying actual content, typefaces, colour schemes, image dimensions and branded elements.

  • Mobile website wireframes

Much like a low-fidelity wireframe, a mobile website wireframe is normally a two-dimensional sketch that serves as a visual guide for the appearance and functionality of a mobile website. A mobile website wireframe doesn’t represent the full design, only depicting the screen layouts and key design components.

How to create a simple wireframe

Now you’ve picked the type of wireframe you’re going to create, here’s a four-step guide to help you kickstart the wireframing process:

  • Step 1: Determine your website device size

The sizing of your wireframe will depend on which device you’re designing for. There are three device sizes to choose from:

  • Desktops have a size of 768 pixels wide x 1366 pixels long
  • Tablets have a size of 800 pixels wide x 1280 pixels long (8” tablet) and 1200 pixels wide x 1920 pixels long (10” tablet)
  • Mobiles have a size of 1080 pixels wide x 1920 pixels long

Depending on the usage you’re planning for your website, you might design wireframes for all three device sizes.

  • Step 2: Understand the goal of the website

At the beginning of the wireframing process, it’s crucial to define your website’s goals. Do you want to generate more traffic? Do you want users to purchase something, or download an app?

Whatever your goals are, they will guide the wireframing process at every stage. Write your goals down on sticky notes and attach them to your wireframe template. This will keep the website’s goals top of mind amongst your team.

  • Step 3: Understand the user flow

Designing your user flow will help you track and plan movement within your website. The aim is to make your website as easy to navigate as possible. 

A wireflow is a hybrid document that combines a wireframe with a user flow diagram. Simply adding arrows and annotation between wireframes on a single canvas will indicate the paths a user may take while moving around in your website.

  • Step 4: Know the conversion points

Building on your understanding of the user flow, it’s important to plan exactly how the user will move through the website and complete each step of the process you want them to carry out. 

You’ll need to determine which buttons, menus and links will guide the user through each step. You’re aiming to smoothly move the user through the conversion points, enabling them to easily perform the task that you set as your goal in step 2. 

How to create a simple wireframe

What are the best tools to create wireframes with?

There are plenty of software options that can take the heavy lifting out of creating your wireframe. Some of the handiest wireframing software on the market includes:

  • Figma – Offering a range of customisable wireframe templates, Figma streamlines the process of producing website mockups. Figma is browser-based, so sharing your wireframes is as straightforward as sharing a link. Your team can leave direct comments, meaning you can easily field questions and gather feedback.
  • Adobe XD – Adobe XD is a powerful, free wireframing tool that’s perfectly suited to website design. With Adobe XD, you can quickly sketch layouts, design UI elements, create user flows and plan information architecture, all with a single design tool.
  • InVision – InVision is an online whiteboard platform designed specifically for prototyping. InVision tools mean your team can quickly iterate, share design ideas and gather feedback from users, designers, and stakeholders. This leads to wireframes that are more responsive and interactive.   
  • Sketch Sketch is known for being one of the easiest wireframing tools to pick up. Sketch artboards can be used to quickly illustrate wireframes, offering a combination of drawing tools and vector design shapes. Sketch tends to be better for solo projects, since it only allows designs to be shared once they’ve been completed.

Want to make wireframing part of your career?

If you want to make wireframing a regular part of your day-to-day work, then a career in UX UI Design is your best bet. Wireframing is an integral part of the UX process and a technical skill that no accomplished UX Designer could do without.

Academy Xi UX UI Design courses give you all the practical skills needed to break into the industry. You’ll learn to place the user’s needs at the centre of the design process, so you can create smooth and functional products that leave a lasting impression.

Whether you’re looking to upskill and test the waters of the industry, or launch a completely new career as a UX Designer, we’ve got the perfect course for you:

  •  UX UI Design: Elevate – For upskillers looking to boost their career prospects with in-demand creative capabilities 
  • UX UI Design: Elevate (Self-Paced) – For upskillers looking to boost their career prospects with in-demand creative capabilities, whilst enjoying the flexibility of self-paced learning
  • UX UI Design: Transform – For career changers, looking to transform their profession with a course offering access to a Career Support Program that helps 97% of graduates land their dream role 

Not sure which is the best course for you? Chat to one of our course advisors and we’ll help you break into one of Australia’s most creative industries.

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