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Website Wireframe

A website wireframe is a visual prototype of a web page that focuses on content, layout, and behavior.

It usually doesn't include any styling, color, or graphics. It's like a blueprint to a house that shows the plan for plumbing and electricity without the interior design.

A website wireframe can also show the relationship between pages, allowing you to navigate between a series of mockups with clickable components.

A wireframe is constructed using basic boxes, lines, and other shapes to create an outline of the functional parts of a web page without wasting time creating an intricate, polished design. It's often the first step in the website design and web development process.

The wireframe helps communicate design concepts to a team, clients, or management.

Website wireframe example

How Wireframes Are Used

  • Brainstorming design ideas and iterating rapidly
  • Soliciting feedback from stakeholders, team members, and clients before devoting resources to a more refined design effort
  • Making sure that everyone is on the same page and shares the same vision
  • Translating the site's information architecture into visual design paths by defining navigation elements such as headers, sidebars, footers, and buttons
  • Highlighting any potential problems and flaws early before they can become larger roadblocks
  • Scoping the development effort
  • Collaborating to help keep projects on track
  • Validating content and navigation
  • Focusing on user interaction, usability, and user experience

How to Make a Website Wireframe

Before you can begin wireframing you may want to have some meetings and brainstorming sessions to discuss business requirements and user needs. Your team should come armed with research: analytics data, surveys, and perhaps even focus group results.

You'll want to create a sitemap of the existing website or design a new information architecture, discuss content strategy, and build personas.

Make sure you understand what the goal of each page should be.

Wireframes will help visualize and provide a structure for these ideas.

Once you begin creating your wireframe don't use any distracting colors or images. You want the wireframe to focus on layout and behavior. Even the font you use should be generic. Images should be represented with a box with an X through them.

Copy on the page can be placeholder copy (Lorem Ipsum) or canned copy like generic calls to action such as "sign up" or "buy." As you iterate your way to a final wireframe, you may find that generic copy doesn't do your vision justice. You can replace your initial placeholders with more detailed copy, especially if that copy takes up more space. That will affect the layout and other elements on the page.

Detailed copy will also help answer the question: is the page fulfilling its intended goal adequately? Given where the copy is placed, how much space it takes up, and how much attention it will get, is it communicating what you want?

Wireframes will vary from site to site, but most will contain some, if not all, of these elements:

  • Your company's or organization's logo
  • Global and local navigation: upper navigation bar, subnavigation, sidebars, breadcrumb trails
  • Search box
  • Headers, page titles, and subheads
  • Body copy
  • Call to action (CTA)
  • Social media buttons
  • Footer navigation and copyright information

Types of Wireframes

Most wireframes can be grouped into two different types based on their level of refinement and detail: low-fidelity wireframes and high-fidelity wireframes.

A low-fidelity wireframe will be more abstract and use placeholder copy.

Low-fidelity wireframe

A high-fidelity wireframe will contain elements closer to the final design and include real copy.

High-fidelity wireframe

Why SmartDraw is Great at Making Wireframes

SmartDraw contains libraries full of common wireframe elements you can drag and drop to your page.

Use SmartDraw on any device with an internet connection to enjoy the full set of features, symbols, and high-quality output.

You can easily hyperlink your wireframes to each other to help simulate website navigation and user experience.

Share your wireframe with your team in a single click using SmartDraw's cloud storage or export your wireframe to any Microsoft Office® document, PDF, or common image file formats. SmartDraw also works on your SharePoint® network or on popular services such as Dropbox®, Google Drive, and OneDrive®.

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