Many software companies in Orlando Florida use wireframing to show and review a visual sample with their clients. During the software development process, wireframing is also useful in discussions between everyone involved in the process. With a visual example, it’s easier for everyone to discuss the vision of the project.
Overall, wireframes do help to save money and time as it prevents having to make too many changes in the later stages of the software development process.
What is Wireframing in Software Development?
Originally, the term wireframing was used to describe the wire mannequin that clothing designers would use as a base to shape and size their garments accordingly.
Although wireframing in the software development world is not referring to the wire doll used to guide fashion designers, the basic concept is the same.
Software development wireframing refers to the grid or base layout that web designers will use to divide a webpage to decide which design elements (text, photos, etc.) should go where. Since website designing, similarly to clothing designing, is no easy task, wireframing allows the designer to establish a basic framework before getting into the more complicated aspects of designing.
In software development wireframing, the wireframe should take into account not just the final visual look of the website but also its functionality and its usability.
The Importance of Wireframing
Wireframing is clearly an important step for all beginner website designers who might not have adequate experience or knowledge. It may seem like an unnecessary step for experienced website designers, but that’s not true.
A wireframe is a crucial step of the design process and any experienced website designer will affirm that it is not an experienced designer who skips wireframing but, in fact, a rookie designer who would make that mistake.
As mentioned above, one obvious benefit to wireframing is that the project team can save some time while during software development or web development by pre-planning and setting the framework before actually delving into the complicated and time consuming bits of web design.
Since a wireframe is literally risk free and far less time consuming than the actual website building portion of the process, there is no harm in making a wireframe even if a developer thinks they are sure of the plan.
Another benefit to wireframes is that your developers can use the wireframe to improve the usability of your website before the launch date.
While wireframing, they can determine what text, tabs and photos need to be visible on the home page versus what can be hidden.
A good developer team should take the time while wireframing to consider what navigation elements are necessary to make your website user friendly and navigable. Furthermore, after building a wireframe, they have essentially a prototype that they can show to clients, partners or anyone else who has a stake in the website.
Disadvantages of Wireframes
Although wireframing is an overall beneficial process that all website designers should get in the habit of doing, there are a few key disadvantages to wireframing.
First, since wireframes are meant to be a simple framework or prototyping tool for a website’s design, it is common for clients, partners or other people to have trouble understanding them.
There may be some miscommunication since a wireframe is not exactly the same as the final outcome.
One way to get around make reduce misunderstandings is for your software developer to create a form of footnotes, explaining the intentions behind each section and why they have chosen to position every section the way they did in the wireframe.
Another disadvantage to wireframes is that when creating a simple guideline for the website, it can be easy to overestimate the amount of space leftover.
Since most people will want to upload content (text and photos) of different sizes to their website, and perhaps make changes to the menus as events change, it can be hard to determine exactly how much space is available when designing wireframes.
How to Build a Wireframe
Now that you have a better idea of what wireframes are and their purpose, how is one actually built? Generally, after being briefed by the client, the developer should have a fair idea of what is necessary for the wireframe.
A wireframe prototype will always take into account three main components – text, photos and navigation elements (menus, task bar, tabs, etc.)
Since a wireframe is meant to be the most basic framework of the software, there is no need to use actual photos or text at all, although some clients do prefer seeing real life examples.
Most wireframes are actually just made up of lines, rectangles and in some cases blind text, to create the most basic layout for the design without the distraction of real photos or words.
There are many tools available online to actually build the wireframe and every single developer or website designer will have their own preferences. Some will even prefer just working with traditional pen and paper.
Otherwise, two popular options include Mockplus and POP, the latter of which can actually be used on mobile devices for those looking to work on the go.
Often, the decision of what kind of wireframe to build is impacted by how much visual elements are involved in the design and how much of the design is still undecided on.
Here are some ways developers may plan out their wireframe process:
- Some developers may start with a rough sketch before coding it
- Others may build a basic wireframe first, then create an interactive wireframe prototype before going on to the final design
- Some developers may start off with a sketch, then create a wireframe, set up a visual design then code it
If the project isn’t very comprehensive and there isn’t a high emphasis on visual elements, then a quick sketch to code is good enough.
In the case where a project is extremely detailed and a lot of resources are being put into it, then really investing the time and effort into a very detailed wireframes (and even building a interactive wireframes) would be good.
Overall, wireframing is such an easy step for a website designer to take in the early planning stages, which will save them many hours of time down the line. With all of the online resources available today to make your wireframing a breeze, there really is no reason to skip the step.