//Best Practices in Wireframe Design

Best Practices in Wireframe Design

Wireframing is a crucial part of any design process. It establishes the relationships among various elements of an application such as navigation, menu, call to action buttons, images, layout, slider, etc. Basically, it creates the basic look and feels of an app on a piece of paper or a whiteboard before it is actually adopted by the developers of the project. It offers a clear guidance to the developers about the positioning and the style of interactions for the app they are developing.

Creative brainstorming is a must for coming to the design conclusions that shape your wireframe design of the app. But the main question that you need to ask is whether the wireframe is really guiding the developers to create the experience you have conceived for the app. If the wireframe is failing to do so, there must be something missing or the or best wireframing practices have not been followed.

We had a long discussion with Imenso, an offshore software development company in India about wireframe design and they shared some of the most tested and tried wireframe design practices that proved effective across a variety of projects.

Follow the ground rules

Wireframing is all about ideation of the entire app design in a way so that the designers and developers can deliver the desired user experience. While you cannot stick to this for very long, you cannot undermine its importance and take it lightly either. Here we are going to explain some of the ground rules of wireframe design.

  • You should use colour in wireframe only when it is absolutely necessary for a meaningful rendition of the design elements. Use colour in wireframe only sparingly and only when it serves a purpose.
  • Remain consistent with all design elements throughout the wireframe. Use fonts, spaces, buttons and delivery elements consistently without causing any distraction.
  • Always use actual content in the wireframe instead of the Lorem Ipsum. If you have finalised the contents, it will be great to utilise the same in wireframe.
  • Never do the wireframe design alone as you will miss collaborative inputs from others. Make a small team of wireframing experts and allow different perspectives to collide and collaborate to deliver a great app design.
  • Communicate with your client about the respective user actions and possibilities while wireframing. Always count on more possibilities and inputs from clients to fine-tune the design for the actual product prototype.
  • One of the most important things is to set clear expectations about the design for the client. When the expectations are conveyed and both sides are in sync about the way design is progressing, you can expect satisfaction from the clients.
  • You can use wireframing programs that allow you putting your ideas easily on grids. But if you want to express your ideas more freely, don’t be restrained by such programs and instead use sketches.
  • Even if you are delighted at seeing a wireframe that you consider perfect, don’t allow the attachment to grow with this. You may need to scrap several wireframes only to find the best one. It all depends upon client expectations and the requirements of the project in hand.
  • You may be full up to the brim with new ideas but unfortunately, all of them cannot be put into practice together at one go. You have to be selective and apply each idea separately when wireframing.
  • Finally, a design should lead to a fruitful and effective conversation with the users. You should design the wireframe in such a way that you remain in total control of the conversation. Always remain vigilant about whether you are on track or not.

Sketch your ideas for the smallest screen

One of the most important things is to sketch out the particular design based on the idea you have. Honestly, long before you start using tools and start collaborating about how the final things will figure out and so on, just sketching out the design concept takes no extra effort and time. Sketching is quicker, easier and devoid of any risks. The sketch helps you organise your ideas into neat shapes upon which you can add dimensions, expand, cultivate and make things better.

Secondly, while sketching and conceptualising the wireframe always start with the mobile screen first. Since the mobile screen is the smallest and offers higher design challenges than other screen types, a responsive design fit for mobile can actually help you come up with a design for every other device. Starting with the smallest mobile screen will always allow you scaling up the design for larger screen sizes. But designing for the larger screens and scaling down the design of the mobile screen is more challenging and susceptible to design glitches.

Use UI design tools and prototyping software

For great wireframing and prototyping, there are a number of quality software and tools available in the market. You need to choose from a wide variety of such tools that suits your project and intended app best.

  • For designers to assess the visual of the app there are useful tools like Photoshop or Sketch. But such software can cause roadblocks when transferring the design to the prototypes. This is why it is advisable to use software and tools made for wireframes and prototypes. Such software and tools have inbuilt options for interactive elements, UI patterns, layouts, custom libraries and smart elements.
  • There are tools like UXPin that allows dragging and dropping visual elements directly into mock-ups. Such tools allow integrating visual designs easily into the prototyping process.
  • It is advisable not to swindle between two design tools from time to time. Instead just select one design software and prototyping tool and committedly use them throughout the project. If you are not experienced enough, try both of them and use the one that suits you the best.

Use the visual elements wisely

One of the most important thing about wireframing is to optimise the core elements visually. After all, it is the wireframe that would determine the visual feel of the app in the final analysis. Here are some key tips for using the visual elements within the wireframe wisely.

  • Evaluate and mark the key visual elements in other successful apps and try to incorporate these elements into your scheme of things. For finding inspiration from other successful designs watch out the contents in Awwards, CSS Design Awards, Dribbble, Site Inspire, etc.
  • Almost all great designs have one thing in common and it is nothing but the minimalist and relevance-focused approach. Clutter in the user interface is considered to be a sin for the designers now. Clutter and too many distractions undermine user experience, legibility, performance and ease of access for the users.
  • Though there are designers who do not like grid systems, nevertheless grids help in aligning, prioritising and organising contents easily. Grid system helps quickly designing the whole UI without much of an effort.
  • There are lots of UI elements that are available for free and the designers should make use of them as much as they can. They can style each button, icon and graphics separately by using free UI kits and collection of tools. Such free tools save a lot of time while helping you styling the UI with unique elements.
  • It is always advisable to use vectors as they can scale up or scale down the pixel count as required by the screen size and resolution. By using vectors one can be free of quality concerns while scaling up design and visual elements.
  • You can use any font at the wireframing and mock-up stage but later on, if you find them not usable on the web, you have to do the extra hard work for changing them. This is why it is better to use typefaces that are fully compatible with the web. You can use Google Fonts or web-ready 653 typography resources
  • As for colours you can use a lot of free online colour tools. This will save a lot of time, effort and expertise required to make your colour scheme perfect. Cohesive Colors which appeared as a free GitHub project or Paletton are two great tools. You can get introduced to several such tools listed by Creativebloq.
  • Though many designers always do it, still once again it is worth suggesting to duplicate layers for quickly recreating similar styles.

File naming and controlling versions

While wireframing for a project it is very important for the developers and designers to take care of the file naming and version control conventions. This allows the better organisation, collaboration, documentation and faster completion of the process.

  • Several layers and files used in the process can easily be messed up especially if the designer is using files for individual layers. You can easily avoid such a situation by naming each file separately and by following a naming convention. This will also help the team members to recognise files and take part in the development process.
  • While developers are mostly aware of creating versions, designers still lack awareness and know-how of this. For every subsequent wireframe and prototype create separate versions so that you can easily revert to previously saved versions when required.

Preview and feedback

Finally, just like the finished apps, your wireframes also need detailed feedback and previewing mechanism. The mock-up in the windows of Photoshop will not provide you with the actual look and feel of the product. This can only be done by Live Preview. Either you can do this on an array of device screens or can do the same by using tools like Skala Preview for doing the same.

The second most important thing for evaluating your design is to get user feedback. The designer himself after getting inside the project for so long may not perceive the faults. But when the same design is evaluated by others, the loopholes and gaps may come to light. Get honest feedback from several persons who use such apps or can have an opinion about how such an app can help users better.

How to make a wireframe in 6 simple steps?

All things said and done, you may now like to know about the real steps that make great wireframing possible. If a great wireframing can really lead to the great user experience, you should not let anything go amiss. The objective of wireframing is to map out even the UX features to deliver a total idea of how the app is going to be used. Whenever you start designing without going deeper into the wireframing, you are very likely to face some incoherence and design challenges that could have been avoided with detailed wireframe.

So, as a methodical approach wireframing is a must for any app design. Let us describe here the precise 6 steps of designing a wireframe.

  1. Deciding the presentation

This is the very first step that requires you to decide how you are going to present information, what style you would follow and how your design would look distinct and unique.

  1. Making the workflow

This is the stage where you have to come with the distinct stages and steps that the app user has to go through.

  1. Choosing the wireframing tools

Now you need to select your required tools to get the wireframe design done. There are a lot of wireframing tools available including the ones for sketching out the concept to the ones used for creating grids and simulation. You need to choose tools as per the requirement of the project.

  1. Distribute the elements into grids

Now that you have known the UI elements clearly you need to place them into grids so that you can easily utilise them later on in the prototype. By using the grids you make elements easily scalable and interchangeable within the layout.

  1. Moving the placeholders to organise

Now by moving the placeholders and boxes you need to create room and organise contents in the layout and optimise the look, feel and usability. The placeholder offers flexibility to adjust the elements to the layout.

  1. AddFont

At the final phase of the wireframe design, you need to add legible typeface that looks perfect for the design.

Conclusion

All the tips and precise steps mentioned above are easier said than done. But following these best practices certainly, designers can make their wireframes and digital apps better.

By |2018-09-26T15:01:27+00:00August 30th, 2018|Web Development|0 Comments