Website Design: Do we REALLY Need a Wireframe?

Recently, during a prospect meeting while reviewing our 6 phase process for website projects, the prospect commented:

Prospect: “Can’t we just skip all this and just build the site?”

Me: “Well…we can, but we won’t.”

One of those steps in the process is the creation and development of the wireframe. “What’s a wireframe?” you ask. Good question! Let me explain:

A wireframe is much like the blueprint of a house. It determines the buckets/areas of information including what kind of functionality it will have, where it is placed in the layout of the site and what kinds of information each page will display (e.g.: navigation, calls to action, dynamic content feeds, footer info, social media integration, etc.). This is a crucial step in the planning process that should never be skipped. Much like building a home, you would not start pouring foundation and ordering materials without the overall plan for the project. If you did, you would not be pleased with the end result or the cost involved.

When I sit down to think through a wireframe, I consider the development process and what I might need to accomplish certain components and functions of the site. Since I have done some pre-planning during this phase, it is helpful in making the development phase more efficient. It also creates a document the client can refer to when pulling together images and content. It’s also important to do any “wall moving”or “cabinet adding” during this phase to keep the project on track and in line with the overall timeframe and budget. Additions and major changes requests that happen after reviewing the development site result in an increase to the budget and timeline of the project.

When presenting a wireframe to a client, I encourage them to really dissect it and make sure it makes sense to them and accomplishes the overall goals for the site. If not, then we “move the walls around” or “rearrange the layout of the kitchen” until the wireframe is a very close representation of the site they envisioned.

Once we have nailed down the wireframe and the client is in agreement…we can then move on to design and development. Essentially, we move along with building this house. Or, in our case, building the website.3298399953_fc30ba57ea

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he proclaimed, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” By creating a wireframe and building that foundation to the website, we are taking that step to prepare ourselves and the client to create the website they truly desire.

photo credit: Benjamin Franklin, Born in…Boston! via photopin (license)

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