When it comes to design prototyping, there are various ways in which you can improve your efficiency. In web design, one such method is wireframing.
In simple words, a wireframe is a generalized mockup that represents the layout of a given website. Wireframing is both effective and easily adaptable and as such, there are hardly any concrete rules for it. For instance, a quick paper sketch of shapes and design elements can work for me, whereas another person might rely on proper digital wireframes that are precise to the core. The ultimate purpose of a wireframe is to create a foundation and basic model of the design in question.
However, owing to its very nature, wireframing is subject to a lot of debate. Some designers find wireframing to be especially useful when it comes to web design, whereas others do not see any merit in it whatsoever. Just like any other design technique or practice, wireframing too has its own share of advantages, assuming we use it in the right way. In this article, I shall be discussing certain methods which, if taken care of, can make wireframing all the more beneficial.
Design Prototyping: Some Thoughts on Wireframes and Mockups
The Time Factor
When its all said and done, the primary logic behind a wireframe is to save time in the long run. As a result, a wireframe serves more like a checklist that ensures that you do not omit any vital detail, thereby saving further design revisions and additional wastage of your precious time.
Your wireframe or mockup is only as effective as the level of detail that goes into it. If you intend to rush through the mockup or wireframe, you may end up skipping certain crucial details such as text location or the Call to Action button, and this in turn will call for an added revision to the mockup and in turn the final design.
Moral: Do not rush through your wireframes. Ten minutes spent on the prototype can save ten days’ worth of revisions on the final output.
For many designers, one of the primary problems with wireframes and mockups is the fact that these can be limiting in terms of creativity. After all, you are creating a prototype, and then adhering to it fully, thereby closing the doors for innovation and out of the box creative ideas, right?
Such ideology is more of a passive mental cliche. A wireframe or a mockup is, at best, a starting or reference point for your final design. Thus, as the design process progresses, and better ways and ideas for enhancing the user experience come to the fore, you should by all means go for them! After all, your first idea (the wireframe) cannot be the absolute metric for the final output.
Moral: A wireframe is not a commandment. Try adhering to it, but be open to newer ideas.
Make It A Habit
Wireframing is not something that can work for everyone the minute he or she starts using it. At the onset of it, you need to find what works for you — it can be a simple paper diagram or a complex mockup created using a digital tool. Thereafter, you also need to incorporate that wireframe in your workflow. A wireframe will be useless if you draw it and forget all about it, after all.
Thus, good wireframing begins when you make a habit out of it. Mockups and wireframes can become an integral part of the design process and save you a lot in terms of time and efforts, if only you set your mind to using them regularly.
Moral: A wireframe is effective only if it is used on a regular basis.
An Ulterior Purpose
For most designers, wireframes are just a tool to visualize the design layout. Once the design is accomplished, the wireframe ceases to be relevant. This very approach hinders proper usage of the mockup.
Let us say you are a design freshman. Having your design mockups and wireframes accompanying the final design can send a very strong message to anyone who is interested in hiring your services — not only do you appear professional but also committed to your work.
Thus, even when your final design ends up to be nothing like the initial mockup or prototype, presenting the final output along with the initial wireframe not only makes design prototyping worthwhile but also projects you as a creative thinker, not just a follower.
Moral: Design prototyping and wireframing can make you a better designer, both psychologically as well as professionally.
All said and done, the decision to wireframe or not to wireframe is yours alone. If design prototyping and mockups do not work for you, you are probably better off without them. However, at the end of it all, wireframing is a wonderful technique that can not only boost one’s productivity but also enhance the overall design outcome. Unless you are one of the select few who can work straight from memory, wireframing and prototyping can not only make you a better designer but also help in marketing your skills in a more professional manner.
Do you use wireframes and mockups to prototype and plan out your design? If so, which tools do you use? Share your thoughts, experiences and feedback with us using the comments below!