Wireframes are one of the best tools your development team can utilize to increase the efficiency and quality of your development projects. If you’ve never used a wireframe before, you’re in luck! We’ve put together this handy guide for the beginning wireframer, so you can get set up and start creating high-quality projects.
Step 1: Start with A Sketch and a Purpose
“Remember why you’re making them — to explore ideas? to validate possible solutions? to provide a spec to developers? — and put just enough into your wireframes and prototypes to accomplish that and keep your project moving forward,” says Victor Hsu, the CEO of Axure.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a simple sketch of your design. Whether you’re designing an app, website, or software, this is a great place to begin the design process. You don’t have to be an artist for this step, as you’re simply mapping out the basic layout of your project so that when you go to use your wireframe tool, you’ve already got the basic idea to work with.
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Step 2: Find the Right Tools
Using the right tools is essential to the success of your wireframe. Certain tools perform better, and some online wireframe tools even include lots of extras such as cloud storage and some team management tools.
When you’re searching for the right wireframe tool, keep in mind what you want out of the tool itself. Do you need cloud storage and easy collaboration tools? Perhaps you’re working by yourself and have no need for these extras.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the price. Some wireframe tools cost a monthly or annual fee, and others don’t cost anything. Remember that price doesn’t automatically equal quality, and a little research on different tools can help you choose the best one for your project and budget.
Step 3: Remember These Important Tips
So, you’ve sketched out a basic design, chosen the correct tool, and now you’re ready to start wireframing. This is a great new step for current and future projects, so here are some tips for making your wireframe work for you.
Remember that a wireframe should not be overly complex when it comes to design. That means keeping the wireframe grayscale (that means no color!). This can be difficult, especially when you’re excited about how your app or site will look, but don’t worry; that comes later.
Keep the project color-free and utilize simple fonts. What you want from a wireframe isn’t a final design template, but rather a blueprint that can be changed as necessary. It’s best to keep your client involved with the design process, especially during the wireframing process.
The client will likely decide to make small changes to the layout of the design once they see it in the wireframe. It’s best to make these edits at this point in the project rather than attempting to go back once it’s completed.
Your wireframe should focus on UX (that’s user experience for the new developers) or how the user will experience your finished product. Navigation, architecture, and layout are important factors here. Focus on how your design is laid out for maximum information retention and easy navigation.
Step 4: High-Fidelity Mockup
Once you’ve completed a simple wireframe, the next step is to create a high-fidelity mockup. This includes all of the elements you wanted to include in your wireframe, like colors, graphics, and beautiful fonts.
This serves as a representation of what the final product will look like. It can be used to identify key problems like navigation or element placement. You can also present your mockup to the client for verification, and to make any changes before the design is finalized.
After you’ve completed and presented your mockup, you’ll create a prototype. This is a working representation of the final project. At this point in time, all major issues should be addressed because edits will become time-consuming and potentially costly. That’s why wireframes are so essential to the design process.
Step 5: Expand Your Network
Networking with other design professionals is a part of the design process. By building a great team, you can increase your presence in the market. You can learn some new skills, and even land some new clients.
Once you’re comfortable with wireframing, your designs will increase dramatically in quality. You’ll notice that your skills become even more valuable. Make sure to put yourself out there, be proud of your work. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people and organizations.
You can use tools such as LinkedIn to expand your network. Sites like Facebook and other social media outlets are also great ways to meet new design professionals. Dribble is a site specifically designed to help design professionals meet and network. You can upload designs, contact other professionals, and even find design jobs.
Don’t forget networking in your design process. You just might learn something extremely valuable, and make connections that you’ll be grateful for later on.
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Wireframes are incredible tools that can change your design process and help create better design projects. Streamlining the design process can making collaboration easier, clients happier, and increase your work efficiency. The more efficient your projects are, the fewer edits you’ll have to make. Thus the more money will be put into your pocket. With countless professional wireframe tools out there, there’s never been a better time to start using a wireframe in your design process.
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