What is a website wireframe in web design?

Build a solid blueprint
Website Wireframe Example
Photo: Website wireframe by Rob Enslin via CC BY 2.0

When designing a website, it’s critical to start with a plan. To that end, let’s talk about website wireframing, and discuss how creating a strong digital blueprint can help you to get the results you need for your client.

Pro tip: A great way to start thinking about your website wireframe is to become familiar with common organizational and architectural elements in WordPress themes. Having a concept of what’s possible with WordPress design will get your creative juices flowing and can help you envision what the structure of your site design will be.

Why develop a website wireframe?

The goals of wireframing include:

  • Nailing down how information will be displayed to site visitors.
  • Determining the priority and importance of the site’s different elements.
  • Figuring out the functionality and features the site will have.

There’s more to the process than this — you might want to look at some website wireframe examples to get a better picture for how it all works. What’s most important at the wireframing stage, however, is to decide what the site is going to contain and how it will be pieced together.

Related: 90 essential tools for WordPress web designers and developers

Each aspect of the site should have a purpose

Through wireframing, you can iterate on how your site, your visualizations, and your overall goals will work together.

In addition, wireframing offers a multitude of other benefits. The process of creating a website wireframe helps you determine the relative importance of various site features, drives you to visualaize the initial layout of the site, and gives you a framework in which to explore various layout options.

Many developers also simply enjoy the rapid, iterative nature of wireframing.

 

In addition, a website wireframe can help you nail down the scope for your project.

Website Wireframe Roadmap

Having a thorough wireframe in place also benefits you when you have to come back to an old project down the line — a not entirely-unheard-of scenario. Imagine that you’ve been away from a project for a few months, and are then tasked with updating it. By turning to your wireframe and referencing it with the client’s live site, you have a roadmap for moving forward.

Related: Why you should use WordPress website prototypes to avoid scope creep

How to begin piecing the bones of your site together

First, let us offer some crucial advice.

You’ll likely want to schedule wireframing for after the initial pre-planning stage, after you have had a discussion with your client (or yourself!) about the website’s goals.

Those plans and objectives will inform your approach throughout the entire project. And, they definitely should guide you through the wireframing process.

If you don’t already have one, you’ll also want to develop a personal design and development workflow at this point. This can be relatively simple — it just needs to encompass all the major steps.

The last stage will be actually coding the site, and the first could involve a wireframe. However, you will just as often begin with a sketch and move to wireframing from there. How you shape this process is subjective and depends on what you need to efficiently get the job done.

As you might imagine, when it comes to such an important part of the design and development process, there are many different wireframing tools available to help you out. Balsamiq is a common favorite, as is Adobe XD.

From there, you can begin to box out your site’s design in the website wireframe and then fill in the information hierarchy using text. Coloring your website wireframe in grayscale that highlights the visual strength of each element is also a good idea.

Some designers go so far as to create high-definition wireframes, using the client’s fonts and brand colors. However, this isn’t a requirement. Whether it’s a useful step for you will depend on the workflow you developed at the start of the process.

A lo-fi website wireframe is more approachable.

 

In some cases, a lo-fi website wireframe is more useful at this point in the process, as a high-definition mockup can feel like certain design decisions have been locked in when that may not be the case. A lo-fi website wireframe is more approachable, and is often a better tool for exploring options rather than communicating decisions.

Your website wireframe is your blueprint

Website Wireframe Blueprint With Tools

If you’re a designer, or aspiring to become one, you may already know about website wireframing. Wireframing is a stellar solution for developers, too.

A successful website design is driven by focus, and a website wireframe can help give your project just that. As a reference point, it’s invaluable, plus you’ll appreciate how it helps your clients to better visualize their sites. In other words, you’ll find that a wireframe can be the skeleton that holds your entire project together.

Editor’s note: Already building and managing WordPress sites for clients? Then check out GoDaddy Pro, an assortment of free tools for developers and designers to help manage your sites and clients.

Image by: Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash