The Importance of Wireframing in Web Design

The Importance of Wireframing in Web Design

Wireframes can be considered as the blueprint on which the site’s final design is created.

The primary objective of website wireframing is that everyone involved with the website design and development process understands the client’s vision.

Before we start, It is imperative to understand why we are learning what we are learning.

So let me ask you these simple questions.

  • How do you decide how many components should be in your navigation bar?
  • How do you decide whether your web pages should use 4-column grids or 3-column grids?
  • Where should the images be placed on a web page? How about the placement of videos?

All these questions need to be answered before we begin the design.

Yes, I understand that these things are often ignored for a basic website.

However, these things cannot be overlooked for multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon, Alibaba or Uber.

In this article, we will learn how these decisions are made by online marketing giants like Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Uber etc.

Why do you need a wireframe?

Website Wireframe

A wireframe is essentially the foundation on which the website design and development will be done.

As multiple people are involved in creating a website, wireframes ensure that everybody working on the site is on the same page.

As the saying goes, the more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in the battle.

That is why it is recommended to brainstorm with all the concerned persons starting from the client coordinator, project managers, designers, developers and all those involved in the project during the wireframing and prototyping phase of web design.

The time and cost of minute changes during the development phase are much larger than what it takes for these brainstorming sessions.

Always make changes during the wireframing phase.

Whenever you work for a prominent client or big company, there is a concept called wireframing that everyone follows.

When beginners in web design move on to more prominent companies in their careers, they are often confronted with the concept of wireframing and are clueless.

There are experts in the wireframing aspect of the design, but most often, they are not needed as this is something a web designer could do with a bit of training.

Many times your project manager and developers sit together and brainstorm and come up with a good wireframe.

So let me introduce you to wireframing in web design and the tools used for wireframing.

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How do you create a website wireframe?

Wireframing Example

Website wireframing is merely an idea of how your data will be shown on the website.

Here is a quick hint to identify a wireframe; if you see a simple design layout in black and white that is a wireframe.

In wireframing, we are not worried about how our buttons will look, what colour we choose, what images we use etc.; it’s all about data, what kind of data we want the user to see on the first page, known as primary data.

What data can be moved to the second page so that users click on something before seeing that data?

These are all very controversial decisions, as everybody involved in the decision-making will have a different opinion often, which could be for the best outcome.

In wireframing, we do not use images, videos or colours; instead, we mock up the screen.

Website Wireframing Example

Standard wireframe element to represent an image.

To indicate the position of images on a website, we use an image with a cross sign, as shown in the above picture.

The goal here is I want the image in this section and data in this section, what should be in our navigation bar and where they should be our navigation bar.

What should the image and data content are not finalised in wire-framing?

Wireframing has two stages, the Low fidelity wireframing and High Fidelity wireframing.

Fidelity means how accurately the wireframe represents the final version of the design.

Low-fidelity wireframing is the initial wireframing stage and does not represent the final design. At the same time, high-fidelity wireframes give a more accurate outlook on the final design.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Low Fidelity Wireframe

The objective of low-fidelity wireframing is to lay a basic website structure based on the client’s vision.

In low-fidelity mockups, you can start by picking up a pen and paper and drawing.

It’s far easier to change anything in the design phase.

If you don’t like any aspect of the design, you can throw out the paper and start drawing again.

These low-fidelity frameworks may sound time-consuming, but it saves time and money.

Because it’s very costly and often requires much time to make even a small change during the development phase of your website.

When all the people involved agree on the low-fidelity wireframe, done on paper, we move on to the next wireframing stage.

This initial stage of wireframing using pen, paper and sharpies is called low-fidelity mockups.

High-Fidelity Wireframes

High Fidelity Wireframe

High-fidelity wireframes or mockups are done after everyone involved with the project agrees on a low-fidelity framework after detailed discussions.

High-fidelity wireframes give a lot more detail to the designer by providing information about how actual UI elements should look in the final design.

It is a lot easier to understand for the clients and developers.

High-fidelity wireframes may use logos, accurate content, button style, etc., so the designer completely understands the desired outcome.

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This part of website wireframing is done using wireframing tools.

There is customised software with many advanced features just for doing high-fidelity wireframing.

You can also use standard design software like Photoshop, illustrator or sketch for this purpose.

High-fidelity wireframes take comparatively a lot of time compared to low-fidelity wireframes and will increase the cost of web design services.

It would help if you communicated with the client whether they need a high-fidelity wireframe before starting the project.

Difference between website wireframing and prototype

Wireframing Vs Prototyping

Website wireframes and prototypes of a website are entirely different and serve different purposes.

A website prototype is a simple working model created to test the site’s efficiency before the final output.

A prototype will contain all interactive elements of the website, trying to resemble the final product as much as possible.

Prototypes help UI/UX designers examine user interactions and make changes that improve the website’s usability.

Top 15 Wireframe Tools to Fire Up Your Creativity and UX Designs

This segment covers the list of top 15 wireframe tools that break you out of your conundrum and helps you unleash your artistic side:

1. FluidUI

Fluid Ui Tools

Operating on the principles of HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, FluidUI is an open-source wireframe tool. It is considered to be the leading wireframe tool among designers. 

Conglomerates like Oracle, Google, etc., majorly use it to create a stunning website and mobile application wireframes.

Available for both Android and iOS platforms, it also supports Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. With a built-in library of 2000 components, it becomes easier for the designers to create interactive wireframes on FluidUI. 

Price: Starts from $8.25 per month

2. Balsamiq Mockup

Featuring drag-and-drop functionality, the Balsamiq Mockup tool ranks at the #2 position in our list of best wireframe tools.

Its ability to integrate with Google Drive alongside the app/desktop and web browser support makes it unique, allowing the designers to work offline.

A massive repository of UI elements, Sketch and wireframe skins, secure collaboration with third-party apps, and a free trial of 30 days are just a few perks that make it flexible, convenient, and easy to use for beginners. 

Price: Starts from $9 per month

3. Sketch

Design Mobile Apps In Sketch

Tech giants like Apple and Facebook prefer Sketch over other wireframe tools because of its simplicity and exclusive support for MAC OS. 

Some other benefits which designers get by using Sketch include:

  • It supports both vector-based designs as well as artboards. 
  • It doesn’t contain any built-in UI components, yet it allows designers to use third-party UI kits seamlessly in their wireframes.
  • Automatically updates its system refreshing its overall interface and improving its efficiency. 
  • Sketch comes with only one downside. 

Price: $99

4. Pidoco

Pidoco comes with a large pool of drag-and-drop interface elements along with the unique feature of adding multiple pages and layers. 

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Two factors which made Pidoco a part of our list are: 

  • Designers can share and edit screens with others and engage in conversation with them on a real-time basis.
  • Pidoco offers easy customisation and integration support for JIRA, PLANIO, and others via its API
  • Designers also get the flexibility to create custom building blocks which are reusable without any time constraints.

Price: $9.99 per month. Its pricing options are categorised into four segments.

5. Figma

Light on pockets with several additional features built-in is what makes Figma the right choice for an individual designer and a big team. 

It supports multi-collaboration, allowing teammates to indulge in a conversation within the design file. 

A predesigned Wireframe Kit makes it easier for designers to create artboards, add visual elements, and keep them organised.  

Price: Its free plan permits the creation of three projects, while PROFESSIONAL & ORGANISATION starts from $12. 

6. Adobe XD

Designed by ADOBE, Adobe XD allows designers to create sitemaps, sketch wireframes, and create storyboards. 

It operates only on MAC and Windows OS, supports a good range of UI elements, and comes with a primary wireframe vector-design tool. 

A unique ability of ADOBE XD is that it makes it convenient for the designers to create wireframes, prototypes, and mockups in the same design file, thus avoiding possible reiterations. 

Price: 

  • FREE Plan – Supports the creation of only one prototype with 2 GB cloud storage space
  • PRO Plans: $9.99 and $52.99 per month, offering 100 GB of cloud storage space

7. Moqups

Moqups Wireframe Tool

Moqups allows you to design sitemaps, flowcharts, storyboards, and functional prototypes. 

Supportable on MAC, Windows, iOS, and Android, Moqups is only a web-based platform which allows designers the flexibility to work from anywhere. 

It comes integrated with a majority of styling and font options, stencil kits, and drag-and-drop ability making the overall process quicker. 

Price: $20 per month for three users, $7 for an extra user

8. MockFlow

Operating on the lines of the Adobe Flash platform, MockFlow offers a clean and minimal interface to its users. 

It incorporates features like version tracking, sitemap creator for pages and folders, etc. Mockflow emphasises more on mutual collaboration and sharing.

Price: $14 per month per user

9. UXPin

UXPin tends to be popular among designers because of varied reasons. Here is a glance at some of the major ones:

  • It’s flexible and easy to use 
  • Offers nearly 1000+ UI elements for web, mobile, and cloud-based wireframes
  • Operates well on iOS, Android, Windows, Bootstrap, and Foundation
  • Designers get robust and interactive wireframe and prototype design
  • Designers can customise existing UI elements by altering or adding new CSS code

UXPIN offers another unique feature dubbed the PREVIEW mode, which makes it easier for the designers to showcase their prototype design through a working model

Price: $12 per month per editor

10. Marvel

Marvel App Design Tool

Despite being ranked at #10, Marvel holds a good number of users across the globe. Feature-wise, Marvel has a lot to offer to its customer base:

  • It provides the designers’ support for both Sketch and Photoshop files and the option to add their designs to a Marvel library
  • Users are allowed to test their designs on any size screen, inclusive of the Apple Watch
  • Fully compatible with iOS and Android platforms
  • Integration with applications like Slack and Dropbox boosts the workflow process to a great extent.
  • Marvel is intuitive and comes incorporated with a beautiful user interface, transforming how designers incorporate their ideas.
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Price: $14 per month per user

11. Gliffy

A web-based online diagram editor, Gliffy, is used for creating and sharing flowcharts, network diagrams, and user interfaces. 

It enables you to create UML diagrams and flowcharts. This wireframe tool also provides you with real-time editing of layouts. Here’re a few advantages offered by Gliffy:

  • It has Venn diagrams, which help you create your organisation’s charts as a user. The Venn diagrams help in creating a fantastic wireframe.
  • It has three paid versions and provides an easy drag-and-drop interface.
  • It facilitates users to protect against accidental change and track changes.
  • It lets users share the wireframe on any platform with anyone, which is quite easy.

Price: $7.99 per month

12. OmniGraffle

A diagramming and digital illustration app, OmniGraffle is used to design your website wireframe, diagrams, and page layouts. 

When it comes to mac, then it must be your first choice. Check out some of the powerful features which OmniGraffle embraces:

  • Users will get a vast library of stencils to choose from. Each stencil is easily customisable. 
  • Three paid versions of OmniGraffle can be bought by paying a certain amount. 
  • This excellent tool allows users to make diagrams and drawing apps.
  • It has a steeper learning curve and provides a simple drag-and-drop environment to create functional wireframes, UI mockups, and flow charts.

13. Justinmind

The Justinmind Prototyping tool is an authoring tool used for web and mobile prototypes and high-fidelity website frames. 

It proffers capabilities found in diagramming tools like drag and drop placement, resizing formatting, and export/import of widgets. 

It also embraces features for annotating widgets and defining interactions such as animations, conditional linking, calculations, simulating tab controls, and database simulation with accurate data.

Price: $19/user per month

14. Axure RP

This popular software tool is aimed at web, mobile, and desktop applications. It is a wireframing, rapid prototyping, documentation, and specification software tool. It also offers drag-and-drop placement, resizing, and formatting of widgets. 

Moreover, it is an excellent source to evaluate web or mobile apps. Check out some features of the Axure RP wireframe tool:

  • It supports prototyping Rich Internet Applications and generates HTML websites for preview and team collaboration.
  • It can also collaborate with other tools and services, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. 
  • It also offers three paid plans to choose from.
  • Lastly, it provides an excellent level for prototypes.
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15. Invision

A cloud-based solution, Invision, is used for designing a website or app wireframe. 

For designers, it is considered an ideal choice for high-fidelity designs. 

This wireframe tool also provides a wide variety of prototyping tools and features that enable designers to create a functional prototype.

Wireframes are an essential part of web designing; these tools have everything you need to bring your ideas to life. 

Bonus: Mockplus RP

Mockplus Review

Mockplus RP is a quick and easy wireframing and prototyping tool for beginners. Without coding, users could quickly finish a screen design with its pre-built components, icons and drag-and-drop functionalities.
Mockplus RP offers real-time online collaboration, which allows users to work with team members simultaneously, sync and test the design if needed. Clients can leave a comment and provide feedback directly on the design.
Price
Free/mo 3 prototypes 10 pages per prototype; $12.95/mo Unlimited pages and prototypes, unlimited revision history; Customized plan

Which wireframe tool out of our 15 best choices is the best match for your design requirements?

Do you need wireframes while designing websites for smaller clients?

Simple Website Wireframes

Companies like Uber, Amazon and Google develop their websites and apps with great perfection, and they can afford to invest more in wireframing and prototyping.

But what if you work for a mediocre client who barely knows what he wants on a website? Then following this procedure will become a lot trickier than you expect.

Wireframing and prototyping before website design will increase the cost of web design services.

Sometimes developers at a small web design company may skip this aspect of web designing.

However, this is not a good practice, and you obviously will end up making a lot more changes during the development phase when working for a client who does not have a clear picture of how his website should look like.

You may even charge such clients for conceptualisation and wire-framing separately as they have no clear picture of what they want.

It is better to educate the clients about the importance of wireframing in web design and how it will help them to save costs and speed up the project.

Time is money in this field, most designers are charged for an hourly rate, and you don’t want to partner with a client who does not know what they want, as there will surely be a lot of unpleasant experiences with such clients.

Contributors:

Hardik Shah, a Tech Consultant at Simform, provides application development services. He leads large-scale mobility programs that cover platforms, solutions, governance, standardisation, and best practices. Connect with him to discuss the best practices of software methodologies @hsshah_.

Pranoy Sundar is Digital Marketer at Global Media Insight, a Dubai web design agency. He is passionate about everything to do with digital marketing – from designing websites and creating content to online advertisements and SEO.

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11 thoughts on “The Importance of Wireframing in Web Design”

  1. Amazing information on wireframe website design. It is very useful for helping designers think and communicate about the structure of website you’re building.

    Reply
  2. Amazing information on wireframe website design. It is very useful for helping designers think and communicate about the structure of the website you’re building.

    Reply
  3. Amazing information on wireless website design. It is very useful for helping designers think and communicate about the structure of the website you’re building.

    Reply
  4. I agree with your opinion that everything becomes a lot more complex as designer time losses while selling higher for such characters which client has the bare perception of reduces chances of client maintenance hugely but for sure a client which has high budget then all aspects can be analyzed.

    Reply
  5. Great blog, thank you for sharing, and your website seems so great, I could find a lot of informative blogs related to tech

    Reply
  6. I agree with your point that things become a lot more complicated as designer time wastes while charging higher for such aspects which client has bare understanding of reduces chances of client retention greatly but for sure a client which has good budget then all aspects can be considered. Most of the small and medium sized clients have budget constraints which make us optimize budget with their web design requirements.

    Reply
  7. I’m totally done with wireframes for designing websites. I go right from hand sketch to mockup/prototype, then to final design. I use Elegant Themes site building app called Divi. While it does have wireframes functions, I avoid them as it just confuses clients and eats up valuable time.

    Reply

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