UX/UI Design

Wireframes: What They Are & How They Support UX

The comprehensive UX design commonly starts from wireframe building, as this step is the must-have foundation for team collaboration and future customer satisfaction. In essence, wireframes help to keep the project user-focused, clarify and define website features. Ultimately, this UX design stage assures end quality and aligns the team efforts. Thus, we recommend not to disregard this tool in your app development and understand how to use it effectively. 

Follow reading to get the wireframe meaning and learn how to work on this integral part of the designing process for your project good! This overview describes all the details relevant for working on wireframes, as building this app skeleton is the essential stage in UX design.  In detail, we’ll provide a wireframe definition, explain why designers should not omit this UX design stage, and show the exact advantages you can expect from them. 

Also, we’ll demonstrate the key differences between wireframe types and determine low-fidelity, medium-fidelity, and high-fidelity wireframes. Finally, we’ll recommend the best tools for wireframes creation and share our experience in making the wireframing process as effective and beneficial as possible. 

In this guide, Arounda experts shared the best practices we’ve adopted in our previous projects. For us, it’s a pleasure to share the best we know about wireframes to help your product reach the maximum user experience!   

What Is a Wireframe and Why Do Designers Build it?

In essence, a wireframe is the skeleton of a future app product represented as a layout. Although it’s mostly a black-and-white image with occasional bright spots, this outline maintains the needed balance between simplicity and complexity. Simultaneously, it’s the backbone for building an app from scratch and an image sophisticated enough to introduce all the screens and elements needed. 

An effective wireframe is focused on the product’s structure. Because of this, it’s a must to represent the following information schematically in the wireframe:

  • screens used in an app,

  • the connections between the screens,

  • general structure and overall logic of an app

  • navigation

  • all the information in the blocks

  • locating elements so that users can interact with them easier

  • additional interactive elements on all the pages

Depending on the app complexity, the complexity of wireframes changes (more details in the Types of Wireframes section). In any case, the focus on structure calls the designers to keep visual and emotional perception as simply as possible. In practice, it means using monochromatic color schemes and boxes and lines instead of all the interactive elements.

Mainly, wireframes are needed for testing and collecting feedback from the team, developers, and clients. For designers, the UX wireframe is also useful. It creates the structure and hierarchy, helping to place more complex elements on a layout in the future and improve user experience.

Simply put, wireframes increase the usability of the product, helping to find the necessary elements fast. You understand how your future app will look without the need for designers to elaborate on the details.

Here are some other benefits of the wireframes:

1. It serves as a visual guide to comprehensive UI design. Wireframes provide the visual understanding of a page for a client who validates the idea and ensures the further creative work of the designers goes in the right direction.

2. It’s easy to adapt. The wireframing design is a quick and cheap way to represent the logic and structure of an app, compared to concept design. Also, it’s simple enough for non-designers to get it and adjust to project needs.

3. It’s designed for testing. As a beginning of the design process, wireframe building makes it safe to test ideas and collect user feedback. This information can be used for future prototype usability testing, and you can detect and eliminate the problems in the wireframe faster than in the complex design.  

4. It considers business needs. The elimination of sophisticated design in wireframe building saves space to meet the project aims and ensure a satisfactory user experience.  

5. It accelerates design and development. Wireframe UX design invites all the stakeholders to collaborate, increasing the mutual understanding of the project aims and providing common ground for the team working on the app. Once everything goes wrong in the future, everybody can come back to basics and recognize the relevant adjustment. 

Types of Wireframes

Wireframes are different from mockups and prototypes. The level of wireframe complexity differs from low-fidelity to medium-fidelity and high-fidelity — but all of them are still the preliminary stage for future design. A wireframe is always a skeleton with muscles, but mockups and prototypes already provide skin and breathe life into it. At the same time, high-fidelity wireframes (the most sophisticated wireframe type) already contain pixel-perfect elements, which makes them close to an app mockup. In their turn, prototypes, as sophisticated versions, deal with testing interactivity mostly.

The main idea of creating a wireframe is to provide a general idea of a layout and represent the placement of the content elaborated on other design stages.

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Generally, low-fidelity wireframes reveal their best once you want to experiment with concepts. To start working on them, you need the determined app flow that features the exact screens of a future app. This way, it’s possible to logically and consistently place the information examples on them. 

While building low-fidelity wireframes, it’s important to place elements so that users can complete the desired action and gain the expected outcome as fast as possible. For this, information should have maximum visibility, being put in special placeholders that mark the appearance of the relevant content. This way, users can see what should be done firsthand and which buttons and touchpoints they should click to get what they want.

Also, low-fidelity wireframe building needs to gather the structure of the main screens and place elements on them in an informational hierarchy. At this stage, it’s possible to determine the typography, meaning using different font sizes for different information types. Images themselves should be schematic, and hierarchy is mostly shown by grey color. 

Medium-Fidelity Wireframes

This type is the most common among others, serving as an interim result between low-fidelity and high-fidelity wireframes. In essence, medium-fidelity wireframes are close to the final product — but still, they don’t contain a selected style and pixel-perfect elements to avoid distractions and don’t bother getting the key concept of an app.  

Although this type doesn’t contain images and typography, working on a medium-fidelity wireframe still requires more attention to spacing from the edges, buttons, and images. Also, it’s essential to add the necessary detail to particular components for clearer differentiation. Varying text heights may work for separating headings from subheadings and texts in blocks. In terms of color, medium-fidelity wireframes are still grey; although, this color has different shades to communicate the hierarchy between elements.

The general aim is to achieve a more realistic appearance that makes it easy for the client and team to get the concept without distinguishing design-related details and technical implications. 

High-Fidelity Wireframes (Mockups)

The layout gets even more realism in high-fidelity wireframes thanks to pictures and minimal interactivity between elements. That’s why this wireframe type can sometimes serve as a mockup for your future product. 

High-fidelity wireframes are the most nuanced among others and make the structure close to the final design. In particular, the page flow is more consistent, logical, and has circumspect navigation. 

Moreover, each screen itself is more sophisticated, with all the missing details placed. For example, where low-fidelity wireframes contain “X” boxes and grey blocks, high-fidelity wireframes will already contain actual featured images and accurate body content. Also, it will include navigation systems, contact information, and footers.

A high-fidelity wireframe looks like a final product, with real images and buttons and realistic data. That’s why project stakeholders commonly use this type for representing sophisticated concepts, including complex menu structures and interactive website maps. 

How to Create User Interface Wireframes and Which Tools to Choose?

Wireframes can be created from scratch by using custom elements that are individually selected for a project. Commonly, that’s a preliminary stage in the design process, which means checking and validating ideas at minimal risk and cost and thinking about the usability of an app from the very beginning. 

The set of elements all the wireframe types share are:

  • logos

  • search fields

  • headers

  • buttons

  • lorem ipsum placeholder text 

Due to such maximum simplicity, a wireframe can even be a paper sketch. Nevertheless, we recommend working on this wireframe type on a device so that it’s easier to share and communicate on the sketch within a team. 

Here are the five most useful tools to create wireframes:

  • Figma. This all-in-one browser-placed design instrument makes the designer’s work more organized and optimized. Figma is useful in all the design stages. That’s why working with wireframes in this program is a great choice for real-time collaboration from your wider team.

  • Sketch. This tool offers a combination of artboards and vector design shapes, making it easier for a designer to create a wireframe. Also, the Symbols feature in Sketch lets you reuse UI elements, which makes the process faster and easier. 

  • Axure. This software is useful for wireframing process and prototyping testing alike. You can easily work with flow diagrams, data flow, and visual diagrams with their set of features. For wireframes creation, Axure RP provides the necessary tools for any fidelity type.

  • Miro. This tool provides a gallery of useful wireframe templates, offered to simplify the workflow and optimize the designer’s time and efforts on making wireframes.

  • Adobe Photoshop. The great advantage of Photoshop is its compilation of artboards that correspond with your screen size dimensions, along with an opportunity to create your own. This way, the tool provides more space for creativity. Adobe tool is also useful for wireframing, offering numerous instruments for digital painting and photo editing.

Host Presto Project: Arounda’s Experience in Building Wireframes

To illustrate the typical process of building wireframes, we’ll share our experience working with Host Presto, one of the leading independent, affordable web hosting companies from the UK leading provider. 

Host Presto, being a provider that offers reliable and safe hosting service, reached out to us with the request to create the UX/UI of their web application from scratch. One of the main client’s requirements was to make the customer journey simple for DevOps and backend developers. Also, they strived to make the infographics clean and attractive.

We did all the stages relevant to UX and UI to address the challenge and created high-fidelity wireframes. By selecting the most sophisticated wireframe type, we made a realistic appearance for images and icons and created the style and pixel-perfect elements.

During wireframe development, we completed the following actions:

  • Imaged all the interface elements that were as close to the final design as possible,

  • Elaborated on the page elements and navigation, 

  • Determined the web app logic, 

  • Made detailed layouts for each screen, along with secondary and transitional screens.

After validating high-fidelity wireframes, we moved to create the more complex design based on the concept we’ve arranged at this stage.   

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve discussed what wireframes are and how to naturally integrate their creation in the designing process. As it turns, wireframes are the necessary prerequisite for solid UX design, providing a defined structure all the stakeholders can easily understand and work on. They are useful for making the concept user-focused and clear to all the stakeholders, providing the foundation for collaboration and the basics for adjustments during the future design stages. In this regard, a wireframe must be functional, provide the basic hierarchy, and maintain a concise and appealing view of all the elements. 

Arounda can help you with professional wireframe building services. For any project, we adopt the comprehensive approach to UX design, which includes the consideration of specifics of web and mobile apps, marketing and branding needs, and app development processes. By referring to our experts, you’ll get high-quality wireframe that will possess all the advantages and expected outcomes we’ve described here.

Vladislav Gavriluk
WRITTEN BY
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.
Vladislav Gavriluk
WRITTEN BY
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.
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