How to Create a Wireframe

A wireframe is a simple structural design of a digital product with minimal color and graphics showing the basic functionality users will interact with when using the product. Wireframing is a drawing of shapes — squares, rectangles, circles, etc. to visualize the product user interface, using lines to convey product text and including vital product copies, such as headers and CTAs. Wireframes are usually low-fidelity designs created with pen and paper or a software tool like Balsamiq. A wireframe is like the initial blueprint of a digital product, for example, a website, and must cover the following design elements;

  • User interface (UI) components
  • Content order
  • Screen layout
  • Navigational elements
  • CTAs

How to Create a Wireframe In 6 Steps

Step 1: Research

Before starting a wireframe project, you need to know who the ideal users of the product are, their interests, and their behavior. Depending on the available industry data and your budget, you may have to conduct user research. Additionally, you can study existing brands with similar products and see how their website or app solves user problems. Competitive research will let you see the pros and cons of the UI/UX of existing products similar to yours.

Step 2: Create User Personas

Use the insights from the research data to develop user personas for your product. Comb through your research data for behavioral patterns and identify the user groups that might use your product. Ensure the user personas address the following questions;

  • Who is the end user — their demographics
  • What is their goal
  • What are their needs
  • What challenges are they facing

After answering these questions about each segmented user group, provide a problem statement for each group.

Step 3: Develop a User Flow

Now, it’s time to map out the product user flow. You can design your user flow on paper or on a digital screen using UI/UX design software. Identify how many screens the product needs and define the order users will follow to achieve their goals. The informational architecture of the product is a vital part of UX design because it layouts the journey from the first page of the product to the end. An effective user flow is simple and instructional, preventing users from getting overwhelmed or confused using the product.

Step 4: Sketch

Get your sketching tools — pencil and paper or digital sketching software tool and create your wireframe. Since the wireframe is a UI/UX tool that points out the product features and formats, you’re not supposed to create a hi-fi design. Avoid getting distracted by colors, resolution, and details when sketching a wireframe. Instead, sketch the functional blocks users will see and use when using the product. The good thing about wireframing is that you can create multiple variations of each screen and share them with other team members to determine the best ones.

Step 5: Ask for Feedback

Ask for feedback from colleagues or friends. First, show the wireframe variations to colleagues or friends without stating your goals to see if they can identify the purpose of the wireframe and understand its structure. This lets you know if the wireframe has clarity. But regardless of their understanding of the wireframe, discuss it with your colleagues, stating your original goals and the user flow. Listen to their opinions about the navigation, screens, buttons, etc., and make a list of the improvements for the wireframe.

Step 6: Update and Add Informational Details

Use the insights from the feedback to update the wireframe and make corrections where necessary. Since the next stage is the prototype, your wireframe needs informational details that will help with prototyping. The wireframe is a skeleton for the product, so label the parts and include instructional texts such as calls-to-action (CTAs).

Tips for Creating Wireframes

Discuss with stakeholders: regardless of the vision you see for the wireframe or product as a whole, don’t assume your ideas are perfect to go ahead without discussing them with stakeholders. Well, except if you are comfortable working on a wireframe project that gets shut down at the hi-fi prototype phase. Ask about the product requirements from stakeholders, and learn about what they want for users and any specific features they want for the product. Because they have a bigger-picture perspective of the product, their insights will be valuable to the wireframe.

Add vital elements: think about your product and the processes users need to go through from the first page of the product to the end where they achieve their goals. Make a list of elements such as login/signup, search boxes, navigation, content, submit buttons, company logo, save for later, etc. Consider your product niche, unique offering, and similar products to identify the vital elements to include in the product wireframe.

Prioritize navigation: The ultimate rule for navigation design is to create an orderly and simple hierarchical system that is comprehensible to all users. For example, if you are designing a wireframe for your company website or app, separate company-related elements from product-centric elements. So, if customers are curious about your company, they can expand and choose answers from a distinct company-related dropdown menu. And if they have a product-related concern, there is another product-centric dropdown menu to click for answers.

The second rule for navigation is to include navigation elements that make it easy for users to retrace their steps and avoid getting lost in the web pages. In other words, make it easy for users to return to the homepage from any page. Lastly, ensure all navigation elements are simple.

Avoid using Lorem Ipsum: instead of using “lorem ipsum” for the product copy when creating a wireframe, use actual texts. Lorem ipsum is too vague and won’t reveal how actual texts will fit in with your wireframe and end product. Using actual meaningful texts during the wireframing phase lets you see how the product copy will display after the product launch. At this stage, you can experiment with different fonts and font sizes to determine the most suitable.

Bottom Line

As you can see, anyone can create a wireframe. So, instead of hiring a professional designer on a tight budget, use this article as a guide to design a wireframe for your website.

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