A Practical Wireframe Primer
by Shawn Borsky
on September 11, 2011
in design Resources
In the current design atmosphere , I hear the term wireframe being thrown around a lot more than it used to be. Over the last few years, wireframing is a process that has endured a lot of misunderstanding and has been become much more widely known as a software and web design methodology. I’ve begun to notice that the concept is warping and not for the better. This twisting of the terms is making it difficult for newer designers and students to understand the real application of the process.
Wait, whats the problem?
Recently, I gave a talk at a design school and I had a few students ask me about wire-framing and their mental model of it was pretty far off base. Their concept of wireframes included design, finalized layout, and a number of aesthetic decisions to name a few of the inappropriate things they considered part of wireframes. The worst part : they didn’t even want to do it. These students just knew it was a step they were supposed to do but didn’t understand why it was so useful. They just accepted it as step in the process and breezed through it to get to the fun look and feel parts. This was troubling to me. At first, I thought it may have been an isolated incident, but more and more I have been noticing that the workplace application of the process is suffering due to a bit of incorrect and popular saturation among clients, new designers, producers, product designers, etc. Wireframing is an essential step in the web design process and it would be a shame if up-and-coming designers did not learn to love it.
Wireframes are blueprints
It interesting that designers will understand that complex structures such as buildings or cars require careful planning and architecture but then take a similar ideas for the web industry and barrel into them with little or no planning. Granted, a website is not a car, it is still a substantially complex undertaking and leaving out careful planning and structure is the recipe for a lot of wasted time, work and money. I promise I’ll get to the practical implementations but first, part of the initial battle is making sure everyone understands what a wire-frame is and what it is for.