What is the Value of a Wireframe?
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 10 seconds
Maybe you’ve heard you need a wireframe for a project or have used them in the past but now you are wondering what value does having a wireframe add?
I think this is a valid question. So what is the value of a wireframe?
Just because a wireframe gets created that doesn’t guarantee the project has been thoroughly thought through. A wireframe starts out as a thinking tool, at least for me and the way I use them. It is something that is a bit of a higher fidelity sketch. It is meant to serve as a conversation starter and to elicit questions and debates.
I find tremendous value using a wireframe to talk through ideas with both business and technology folks without getting caught up in the overall look and feel of the site. Using a wireframe at this point allows for more critical thinking on the core idea and less criticizing how something looks.
Quite frankly, anybody can create a wireframe. At its core the wireframe, as a design artifact, is nothing more than some boxes, text and maybe an arrow or two. However, a wireframe that is created by a User Experience Designer will still be boxes and text but each box will have been intentionally placed. Each decision will have been thought through critically to understand how it works with everything else on the page and how the placement can and will affect the users’ behavior. In short, the critical questions will have been asked, evaluated and tested.
It is important to realize that the wireframe only displays a static version of the page or application. A sort of snapshot of one moment in time a person experiences on your site. Consideration must be given to the flow that brings a user into your page or application, as well as, the flow leading out. In addition thought around what the user’s context is when they arrive on the page or within the application and the managing and matching of expectations going out. These behaviors and outcomes can all be planned for by using wireframes. This of course only works if the wireframes are more than just boxes and text.
Done correctly wireframes hold tremendous value. However, without understanding context, the overall site structure and the users’ expectations, wireframes hold no more value than some squares drawn onto a blank sheet of paper.
If you would like help on understanding the value of wireframes, or designing wireframes that make sense for your business website or application email me or give me a call at 330.648.FARM, to see how Small Farm Design can help.