designJuly 18, 2018
Wireframes – 10 best practices you should follow
If you are here after reading my last two blog posts on Wireframing 101 and Types of Wireframes, you must, by now, have a clear idea about the meaning of wireframes, their benefits in the web design process and the types of wireframes in product design.
If you are new to the world of website designing and wireframing, I would suggest you read up my aforementioned articles first. That will give you a broad sense of wireframes in general and this post would make a lot more sense. Okay, so you are brushed up on the concept of wireframes, you know how essential the process for a user experience design and you are ready to create your first wireframe.
But before you pick up that pen and paper and start scribbling away, let us look at some points you should keep in mind before you begin designing the wireframes for a project. Here are 10 best practices for creating a functional wireframe.
This is the fundamental rule that applies to any product development process. You cannot create a positive user experience without thoroughly researching the user base for the product. Before you start creating the boxes and shapes in your wireframe, have a clear idea about the target user.
Identify their needs and pain points. Understand how they would interact with the product. Figure out the market size for the product, the size of the user base and know the way in which the product is meaning to reach its users. The foundation of your wireframes should be built on extensive user research. If you miss this step, your entire product design will crumble to pieces.
Keep colors to a bare minimum
The best practice is to not use colors at all. But if you absolutely have to, maybe to indicate some elements, use it to a minimal. Use black and white or something from the grayscale palette. Use of colors can distract the viewer from the important functional elements of the wireframe design.
Remember, your wireframes are NOT supposed to act as a mockup of the visual design of your product. A wireframe is meant to layout the functionality of the product and the user interaction process. The visual design will be taken care of in the later stages. Stay away from using any form of colors that might deviate attention from the structural and functional view of the product.
Consistency is key when it comes to wireframes design. While designing your wireframes, make sure you are following a regular pattern with the use of typography, spacings and other elements. Use a single font family. You can use different font sizes from the same family to depict the textual hierarchy. Inconsistency of elements can lead to confusion. That’s the last thing you want in your wireframes.
Involve the team
Never assume that you are the expert. Share your ideas around. When you discuss the ideas with your teammates and other stakeholders, you’ll usually come up with better ideas. Encourage feedback and discussion. Be open to listening.
The process of wireframes design should involve the design team, the creative and content team, and the stakeholders.
Know your expectations clearly
As with any creative process, it is very important that everyone involved is on the same page. Make sure you are communicating with your client continuously. Ensure that the client knows how the wireframing tool is being used.
As a lot of questions. Don’t assume things. Understand all your expectations clearly and let the client know those as well. Because, at the end of your process, no matter how great your wireframes are, if the client is unsatisfied, you’ll have to start all over again. No one wants that, right?
Conversations are important
This kind of carries on from the previous point. Ensure that you are having meaningful conversations with your client. Understand the requirements, discuss your research, ask open-ended questions and encourage feedback.
Control the conversation when you are explaining the wireframes. It’s easy to steer away from the track during the discussion but make sure to steer it right back. Early and constant communication is essential for every product development project. Make sure you are doing it from as early as the wireframe design process.
Communicate essential functionalities and interactions
Not everyone will understand the technicalities of a wireframe at the first go. Communication is the key. When you take on wireframe designing, make sure that you are able to communicate the important interactions and functionalities of the product through your wireframes statically.
Don’t get attached
Designing wireframes can be time taking and require effort and research. It’s easy to get attached and defensive about your wireframes. But remember that wireframes always go through a lot of iterations and revisions before a final design is approved. Be open to accept changes and updates. Don’t get too attached about a wireframe because you might have to discard it after some feedback.
Acknowledge the feedback and criticism and ensure that your revisions follow the feedback. It is after all easier to do away with a wireframe than doing away with bad website design.
Keep it simple, silly
Never ever design complex wireframes. A wireframe is not supposed to be complicated. A wireframe which is anything but simple will create distraction and confusion. It will be difficult to understand and might not get the message through. Use simple shapes, elements and color schemes. At its most basic level, a wireframe is a visual layout comprising of lines, boxes, and shapes.
Focus on UX
User experience is your ultimate goal. UX is the big picture that you are building the wireframes for. At every step of your wireframe design, keep your focus on user experience. The arrangement of the interactive elements, the content placement, the CTA buttons: everything you include on the wireframes should always be centered around positive user experience. This is where the first point on this list comes in handy.
The wireframe is the skeleton over which the UI would lie for the product. Make sure that the wireframe design is built in a way that it achieves the goals of the product. Now that you know the best practices for a wireframe design, you are ready to design your first wireframe.
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