28 Jul 2022
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Why web designers do wireframes
Wireframing is something most web designers do to create prototypes faster and to make adjustments in half the time it would take to program them.
Wireframes allow us as web designers to create quick sketches without any colors and visual imaging. It is simple lines and boxes on the screen to test out theories and ideas before starting the long process of programming it. By removing colors and imaging we can focus on what content we want to display and a rough layout that will give a user the right experience. This way we save both our time and our customer's money.
When a small prototype has been made we can make it into an interactive prototype that either the customer can weigh in on or the design team. The prototype allows the user to tap through the user interface and get a general feeling of how the product would function once it is done. I guess you can compare it to testing if humans work by interacting with their skeleton vis robes.
Benefits of creating wireframes
Creating a wireframe can seem dry if you are only interested in programming, but there are many benefits that you should consider before jumping directly to coding.
- Including the client: When you build a wireframe to show your client then you actively include them in the design process and give them a chance to come up with ideas and changes before it is too late. We all hate redoing our product, but if we include the customer early we don’t have to.
- Build concepts faster: When you build wireframes you put aside colors and fancy imaging and instead focus on the overall experience. This allows you to build a concept fast so you can get started with the fanciful prototype.
- Changes are done easily: We have probably all tried programming most of a project just to get the feedback from the customer that we need to change something. That something turns out to be big and therefore ends up costing the developer team weeks of work. When you build wireframes you can quickly make changes and once the client is agreeing then you can create the product.
- Less unused code: This might not be something you think about, but when you start with a wireframe prototype then you tend to end up with much less unused code because you only program what you need. When coding first you tend to forget sections and suddenly you have hundreds of lines of code that are not being used at all.
- Better preparation: When creating wireframes you create a visual prototype of the product using lines and boxes. This allows you and everyone else on the team to better prepare for the work ahead
How long time does it take to build a wireframe?
Giving a specific answer to this is hard because there isn’t any specific time it usually takes. In the end, it all comes down to how detailed you want your prototype to be, how many pages you create, and how many changes you will be doing before it is done.
A single wireframe for a mobile app usually takes between 30 minutes and a few hours. If I already have an icon library ready and an idea in my head, then it usually goes smooth and fast. Since we don’t have to think about font families or colors sketching will be much faster.
If it is a prototype for a website I usually say that each frame will take between 1-3 hours depending on the desired level of details. On a web page, you will see much more content and it often tends to be more detailed than a mobile application UI (User Interface).
Does wireframing make programming easier?
Yes, wireframing does make programming easier for the development team. The reason for that is that when you deliver a functional prototype that the client already signed off on then, then the development team has something visual to look at while creating the layout instead of blindly trying to visualize the client's idea.
Not every developer has tried this, but if you like me are one of those who both create the UI and develop the product afterward, then you know that thinking out a layout and structure while programming is problematic. It creates long pauses where you overthink every move and choice you make and in the end, you will be changing much of your code anyway when the client wants changes.
If you don't believe me when I say that developing a product is much faster when you take your time prototyping first, then you can try it out next time you start a new project. Make sure to time it so that you will know whether it was faster or slower.
Can you get educated in wireframing?
First of all, you don't need a fancy education to learn how to create wireframes professionally. All it takes is your interest, a good eye for design, and good communication skills.
But if you are interested in education that specifically deals with wireframing then you should look into either Web Design or UI/UX Design. As a web designer, you will work with frontend design and possibly a bit of backend since it is a broader term.
As a UI/UX designer, you are more focused on front-end design and code. The UI (User interface) aspect will focus on the design and visuals and the UX (User experience) will focus on the overall experience the user has.
In the US it takes between 3-4 years of full-time studying before you are educated as a web designer. A study made in 2021 shows that a large number of professionals in the industry hold a degree:
- Bachelors: 67%
- Associate: 18%
- Masters: 7%
- High school diploma: 4%
- Other degrees: 4%
As a UI/UX designer, you can choose to take a certificate online which takes between 8-12 months. A certificate like this will teach you the basics of User interface design and User experience, but more certificates or experience might be required to get a job in the field.
A study from 2021 shows that the majority of professionals working in UI/UX design hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree. The numbers look as follows:
- Bachelors: 71%
- Masters: 17%
- Associate: 7%
- Diploma: 1%
- Other degrees: 4%
In UX (User experience design) it can also be a good idea to study psychology as you will be working closely together with users to study their behavior.
Which software can you use to create wireframes?
There is much wireframing software available both in paid versions and for free. Each one of them is specialized in something the other isn’t so in the end it all comes down to your preference and what the majority use. But chiding a widely used software will make it easier for you to find your place in a new design team.
With that said, there is two major software on the market that almost every web designer seem to use, and in the list below we have linked to both of them to get you started right away.
Adobe XD is the software that I use the most. At work, we already subscribe to the Adobe package so their XD software was first in line when we tested it out.
Adobe XD is an amazing software that allows you to create astonishing prototypes to show your customers. It is easy to learn and does not require much before you can build your own wireframes. Adobe XD also allows you to create complete designs with colors, illustrations, actions, and animations.
One of the main reasons we chose Adobe XD was because of the real-time collaboration you can have with other developers, and once your work is done you can publish it so that your clients can access it via a public URL.
Figma is also a great wireframing and prototyping software, but instead of being installed as actual software on your device, you will be working in your browser.
Figma comes in a free and paid version, but to get the most out of the product you have to subscribe since the free version only allows you to create a maximum of 3 projects.
Figma is easy to use, and if you have watched UI/UX design on YouTube you probably also noticed that Figma is what almost every YouTuber use. The product also allows real-time collaboration and for you to publish prototypes that can be accessed via a public URL.
Have you tried wireframes and did it speed up your process? Please share your experience in our comments below this article, and please share this article with your network.
In this article, we concluded why wireframing is important when designing digital products. It is allowing you to include clients in the process and it speeds up the design phase so that you can get to programming quicker.
It also allows you to make changes faster and test out ideas without spending oceans of time rewriting HTML and CSS.
At last, I would like to thank you for reading this article, and I hope I was able to answer the questions you might have.
I am a self-taught and highly passionate web developer currently living in Sweden, where I use my skills to make the internet a better place through ethical and sustainable web design.