Spending the time and energy to properly define how an end-product should look and behave is an absolute must. By dedicating time on this step you can help save time, money, and other resources further down the line; and using wireframes is a great way to do this!
Wireframes are seen as the skeleton of a prototype. With a wireframe, it’s easy to outline what elements you’d like to see on your design. This is great for demonstrating exactly how you’d like an end-product to look, and behave, and is a massive timesaver if done with templates.
Looking at both Lo-Fi (low fidelity) and Hi-Fi (high fidelity) wireframing could be very handy, as it will help you get crucial feedback as soon as possible. ‘Fidelity,’ is the level of detail seen in a design - which can range from no detail at all, to a rich, fully finished UI.
Once the design is created, it can be used to build a prototype to give the illusion of how the end-product would work in reality.
Clearly defining your elements
An element is defined as “an essential or characteristic part of something abstract”, but when looking at an element from a design perspective, an element actually demonstrates a part of the user interface that has a very specific function.
In wireframing, depending on their fidelity, elements range from incredibly simplistic and neutral in design, for example, vector drawings in black and white to denote the size and shape of an element, to very intricate and specific such as, realistic, and fully coloured elements with text.
There are 4 types of elements:
- Input Controls: These are elements that require information from the user. Examples of these include text fields, checkboxes, and dropdown lists.
- Navigational Components: These are elements where the user will help the end-user move within the design or indicate their current position within the design. Examples of this include slides, pagination, and a search field.
- Informational Components: These are elements that actively give the user more information about the end-product as it’s being used. Examples of this include tooltips, progress bar, and notifications.
- Finally, there are containers that are used to show multimedia that will also be in the design.
Using wireframing during the design process make sit easier to show the elements that are needed in the prototype. By mapping out elements clearly, stakeholders will see what elements will be built into the end-product, and have a better idea of the intended behaviour end-users will have while using it.
Gathering feedback on designs
As we said earlier, wireframing is a must-have when designing an end-product. Using a wireframe makes it a lot easier for others to understand a vision without them needing to see an iteration of the built product.
An idea may be clear to a founder, or a designer - but describing this to another member of your team, or a client, could be tricky! This is because they probably don’t have the context to see or understand how the end-product would work.
Instead, when using wireframes, stakeholders can understand where the UX has been a priority in the design process. With this, the entire team can work together during the design stages, better understand the user flow, what steps end-users will be taking to use the end-product and how they’ll navigate through it. Once the prototype is ready to share with potential end-users, you and your team can also easily create new iterations of the prototype by building in the feedback of your testers.
Having the ideas down, in a simple yet accurate form, means that anyone looking at the design can understand what the end-product will look like. This is great, since describing the project without something tangible can be quite difficult, and where decisions on the future need to be made, any room for ambiguity or vagueness could lead to costly mistakes.
On top of that, building a product from scratch without having feedback from your stakeholders, and understanding the logistics involved in getting the product off the ground can be incredibly tricky, and usually ends up being a timesink in a project.
Understanding how a product should work, and look, with feedback from others means that designers and their collaborators can see what pitfalls will lie ahead as soon as possible, and get them fixed without wasting too much time and resources.
Minimise rework to improve collaboration
Another benefit that we often see from the utilisation of wireframes, is that there’s less total time spent working on working on the design, as there isn’t a need to rework.
By wireframing up-front, all parties involved have the context needed to make sure that the end-product is built properly. As we’ve learnt earlier, clear and comprehensive goals and objectives of the project need to be clearly defined before any building work takes place. Without clear briefs from the people with the initial ideas, the developers responsible for building could very easily work in a direction that’s not in line with what the designers or stakeholders had envisioned - and this wouldn’t necessarily be down to a lack of understanding from the development team, but miscommunication from the team handing off a brief.
By ensuring that the ideas are displayed visually, not only can the team better understand the end-goals of their projects, but if there are any gaps in their understanding of how something could look or work, it’s easy to add comments or annotate the designs to specify to the stakeholders what requires a bit more context.
Another benefit of this is that using wireframes creates an opportunity for better collaboration between the design and development teams before a product is built fully. By development being able to hypothesise what exactly could be feasible to create, within whatever limits or constraints that the development team is under. For example, if there are design features in the prototype that may be more necessary than others, the development team can prioritise which core features should be built earlier in the development stage, and which ones can be included in later iterations.
In short, building a prototype with wireframing is a must in design! Along with saving time, money, and resources, it can also save a lot of stress that comes from miscommunication within a team and can simplify and streamline the process of getting an idea built into a tangible end-product. Get started with wireframing in Marvel today!