Wireframe: A monochromatic drawing for layouts.

Designing a page for millions of users is not a cakewalk!

Ever wondered what eCommerce websites have similar in them? We all can safely guess, it’s about the layout and design that is required on the page. The widgets locations that are easily searchable to the users, and a series of linked pages. Although the website or app designs are not the same, the components used are always accessible to users. 

In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important to have a simple and accessible layout and a way to create a simple layout based on observations.

Importance of product pages:

Your first page or the product pages are the places the users would spend their maximum time. They are not just the pages to be viewed, but they convert your potential visitors into customers. 

The user experience design process is an essential part followed by the user researchers. Lack of proper user research results in poorly built web pages. If you are creating the product for your potential customers you need to understand the differences in your potential clients as you polish your pages for them. 

Importance of user Research findings:

As you design the layouts for your clients, do secondary research on a similar topic. Secondary research is a collation of researched data before any project is gained valuable insights. Know your user’s choices and interests while you design your layout and pages.

Wireframe:

The common mistake is when most developers design their pages while they start the development. With no prior knowledge of the client’s or customers’ choice and behaviors, the random layouts are copied or tweaked from well-known sites. These designs are harmful to your business as the layout also differs on the geographical locations of your customers.

Let’s take an example of the webChat app that is accessible for a particular location or a football app that connects all the football lovers for a match. The layout and designs would vary for these two apps as the customer base is different. The chat app requires a simple layout with minimal widgets. Whereas, a football app requires widgets to display the complex set of charts, along with a live match and scores.

The well-known approach to any layout design is through wireframing. A wireframe is a two-dimensional page layout that provides a basic illustration of content, functionalities in the available space. It eliminates the complexity of styling, colors, and graphics. 

The wireframe is like an architect drawing, it is is a draft user interpretation of your user interface. Wireframe communicates four things, 

  1. The structure of your navigation and information architecture layout including page hierarchy. 
  2. The placement of elements on the screen. 
  3. The wireframes give content light as an idea of placing the content, within the design. 
  4. The wireframes describe how your product will work and how it interacts with the people using it. 

Wireframes are indispensable tools in any UX designer’s toolkit, and they come in handy in many situations. Designs vary the levels of fidelity, and this is what makes them so powerful. 

Low-Fidelity:

At the low fidelity end, you have the hand-drawn sketch. Sketches are a great way to flesh out ideas on your own or with your team. They’re fast to create and quick to iterate on and it. 

Many tools help create wireframes. Wireframes like these communicate your idea to your team, clients, and stakeholders that can be very useful to explain your product, and exactly what you are building. 

High-fidelity:

At the high fidelity end of the spectrum, a clickable prototype lets you design interactions. The use of flat clickable prototypes is the way to go when conducting usability testing. Axure Keynotes are used to design the wireframes. Or as a developer, you can use HTML5 you can directly design into the browser, along with frameworks such as bootstrap or foundation. 

Sometimes a quick sketch is all you need, other times an annotated wireframe is more appropriate. It depends on the project and the stage. Your wireframe should convey just the right amount of detail and no more.

Practice tips to keep in mind while creating wireframe

  1. Keep them simple: The key to wireframe is speed and simplicity. Complexity throws wireframes out, so they don’t need to be highly polished or pixel perfect. 
  2. Using grid:

Use a grid to create structure and simplicity for your layouts. Every decent website these days is built on a grid, so make sure to use one in your frames. 

  1. Short sharp annotations:

Unlike 50-page functional spec documents, team members read wireframes more than any other document. So, add annotations to wireframes, don’t go overboard, and keep them brief to the point.

  1. Encourage feedback: 

Sharing your wireframes, and encouraging feedback from your team members is a way to improve them, so stick your wireframes up on the nearest wall, and encourage your team and anyone to provide feedback before it is finalized.

What wireframes do not offer?

It is best practice to design wireframes for page layouts after your initial requirements and discussion with clients. As we have pointed out about what wireframes offer, let see what they do not offer. 

  1. Wireframes are simple and lack fonts, address, color, textures design styling.
  2. They are just a sketch of an idea. They avoid specifying the exact placement or size of content and widgets placed in the layout. 
  3. Wireframes are similar but are not exact. They are not 100% blueprint, the layout experiences a lot of changes before it goes live.

Take away:

Wireframes are easy to design. It does take some experience to understand when and how to get the most out of them. Initially, wireframes are low-level designs. A small sketch for the initial pages of the site or app is called low-fidelity wireframes. As the homepage layout and design of the wireframes get approved, it is modified into a high-fidelity design. As you see the wireframes of various pages mapped, you can proceed with the next step of mockups, prototyping to design the custom design for your clients.