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The importance of wireframing

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By Karen Oliver

When designing a website, large or small, wireframes are the fundemental basis to which your design process should start. Wireframing usually starts after the site map has been agreed and before the creative design production starts.

They should be simple black and white sketches, either hand drawn or computer generated, that include page elements, features, conversion areas and menus.

Wireframes don’t need much colour or graphical images which may distract from the functional layout.

1. Planning Navigation

Wireframes help visualse user journeys, ensuring all levels of navigation are accounted for ahead of design or build and make it easy to undertand right from the start.

2. Redefines Deliverables

Wireframing the elements and deliverables for a web site can help a client understand the more technical features such as filtering, widgets or jquery.

3. User Experience

User experience is a fundemental reason for wireframing; sketching out key pages to test layouts, meet objectives and to plan call to actions helps understand the user’s perspective.

4. Content Management

A wireframe clearly shows if the design can accomodate managed content which will change over time.

5. Smaller Steps

Rather than mocking up a full design, with finished details such as site furniture, styles and brand and imagery, wireframes help break the design process into more simple yet faster steps.

6. Faster Delivery

Although it may seem like an extra delivery, it will save time in the long run. Design and layout will be more carefully thought through, by both the client and designers provding the chance to clarify deliverables without having to make time consuming graphical changes.

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