What is a Website Wireframe in Web Design?

In this blog, we answer what is a website wireframe, what website wireframes look like & why they are so important for web design.

January 19, 2021
Web Design
Graphic Design
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John Marsh

Creating a brand new website for your business is not something that simply happens overnight. Bringing a new website to life requires many essential stages, from considering the branding, imagery and overall look of the website, to the user interface and how it feels to use it from a site visitors perspective. However, inarguably one of the most critical processes in creating a brand new website is the planning stage, which is where a website wireframe comes in. In the following article, we will discuss what a website wireframe is in web design, what they look like and why they are so pivotal in the field of web design.

What is a Website Wireframe?

A website wireframe is a name given to a type of schematic design or plan for your website, which reduces everything down to a state of simple lines and shapes. A wireframe can be compared to a building schematic or architectural plan in this sense; it does not concern itself with anything to do with the visuals or design but is a purely structural plan. This is to reduce the planning stages down to how exactly the different pages, and content within pages, will behave and interact with each other. Examples include:

  • How users will navigate from page to page in your website, what this user journey will look like and how this journey can be best optimised from a UX perspective.
  • The layout of content blocks such as menu navigation, call-to-actions and buttons, and how they interact.
  • The type of content or functionality that will be needed to make all of these interface ideas tick.

Things such as colours, branding and design of your website are still very important. However, when you are in the earliest planning stages, it is good to really nail your website's structural and technical aspects. Throwing visual elements too soon into the planning stage can perhaps confuse your ideas regarding how everything will all link together, which is why a more skeletal wireframe plan is so useful and essential. In summary, a website wireframe is a basic framework around which your entire website will be built.

Want to learn more about these types of industry terms? You can check out our Digital Marketing Jargon Buster here.

What does a Website Wireframe look like?

As previously alluded to, a website wireframe is a very stripped-back, simplified form of schematic or plan, showcasing the overall structure of a website and the pages of a website as a whole. When creating a wireframe, you will usually use simple shapes and structures such as lines to convey what will go onto a page, how the different parts will work together on the page and the types of content that may need to go on the pages. In terms of what your wireframe will specifically look like, that will depend on the type of wireframe you opt to use: a low fidelity wireframe, a medium-fidelity wireframe or a high fidelity wireframe.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Low-fidelity wireframes are those that have the lowest amount of detail possible, choosing to leave out specifics such as the type of content that will be on each page, and a very rough skeleton of the page layouts overall. Low-fidelity wireframes will not usually consider things such as pixel accuracy or scale, and are most useful when trying to get across the broadest sense of a structural idea to those in your web design team. Low-fidelity wireframes are also very useful when in the earliest stages of planning, as they do not require much detail at all - as well as being relatively quick to produce and share.

Medium Fidelity Wireframes

Medium-fidelity wireframes are a step up from low-fidelity wireframes in terms of detail, presenting much more accurate representations of page layouts. This includes making sure to include finer points such as where buttons and links will go, and what types of content will be needed in all the different sections. However, medium-fidelity wireframes still avoid depicting more detailed design choices, such as graphics, imagery and branding. Medium fidelity wireframes are very useful when discussing more detailed plans and ideas, without necessarily going into some of the finer details.

High Fidelity Wireframes

High-fidelity wireframes, as you could probably guess by the name, or the plans with the highest amount of detail- so much so that it kind of pushes the definition of whether it is still a skeletal "wireframe" or not! High-fidelity wireframes bring in visual design elements and start to consider intricacies such as placeholder text, pixel ranges, typography, imagery and colour- as well as all the other structural and page layout elements. High-fidelity wireframes are best saved for a time in the planning process where you are reasonably confident in finalising the designs you are opting for, and are a good way of mocking up how your website will look once it has been formally created.

Creating a Wireframe

When it comes to actually creating your website wireframe, you have a range of different options to choose from, depending on the level of detail you are looking to include. If you are in the earliest planning stages and are looking to bounce lots of ideas around, it might be easier to simply sketch them out on paper rather than building them with software. If you were looking to create one with more detail, however, there are a variety of great programs that you can use. Tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are suitable for creating a more visual representation of your website.

For an even more detailed, more interactive wireframe, you can also use more sophisticated tools such as Figma and Axure RP. These tools are great as they allow you to consider more interactive elements of your website in real-time. They will also enable you to plan out almost every aspect of your website's design and structure in a more responsive way.

Website wireframes are arguably the most valuable tool you have in planning a brand new website, allowing you to quickly outline your site's structure in a way that is easy to follow. With different levels of detail in your wireframe, you can map out everything you are looking to implement to make sure that your new website runs smoothly and looks good too. For more information on the topic of web design, you can visit our web design service page here, or you can head back to our marketing blog page for more articles like this one. Plus, if you were interested in working with us on a new project, feel free to get in touch with the team here.

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