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The importance of creating a website wireframe in web design: A step-by-step guide with wireframe examples

wireframe,website wireframe,web design,wireframing,creating a website,step-by-step guide,mockup,wireframe tool,design process,high-fidelity,UX,UX design,design project,create a wireframe,interactive wireframes
Should you create wireframes for your website design?

To wireframe or not to wireframe?

There is a big debate online about whether or not you should bother creating wireframes for your website.

Personally, I’m on #TeamWireframe.

It’s not only because we create hundreds of wireframe designs for our clients every day at Deer Designer.

In fact, we have wireframes even for our own website!

If you want the honest truth, you might not need wireframing if you are building your own website by yourself.

It might not matter since you have total control of your website.

You decide what elements you want to add and how you want to organize them.

But building a website is a lot of work. It usually involves different teams.

Usually, a designer creates the design assets, a copywriter writes your text content, and a web developer puts everything together.

The team might double if you’re creating websites for clients and not only for your own brand.

Wireframes are helpful to keep everyone aware of what is going into the website (or app) and where everything is.

After all, if your team doesn’t understand the structure of your site, how do you expect your users and visitors to understand it?

In this guide, I’ll run you through the importance of wireframing, how to use wireframes, and even show some wireframe examples.

Why are website wireframes so important in web design?

Let’s go into detail about how important the wireframing process is to your site’s final website design.

Improving your site’s UX design

User experience (UX) design prioritizes the experience of the site visitors and how they find anything on your site (their user journey).

As we said earlier, if your team doesn’t understand the flow of your site, your users may be even more confused.

Your wireframe serves as a blueprint for your design and allows you to organize it before your designers even start putting together your assets.

Instead of trying to fit all your individual web pages into a cohesive user journey like a puzzle, you can plan out what the user journey is like first.

It’s an opportunity to step back and think about how users will interact with the site without getting bogged down by design details and an existing site structure.

Prototypes can align everyone during the design process

Your team members can’t read your mind.

While you can say you want a website for a certain industry, like a real estate agency, for example, one real estate agency’s website may be structured and designed differently from another.

If you don’t give a clear wireframe of what you want your user interface to look like, you might end up with a generic design following a template from a similar business.

Wireframes help clarify design intentions for everyone involved in the project.

They serve as a visual design guide that communicates the structure and functionality of the website, ensuring that designers, developers, and stakeholders are all on the same page.

Saving your time and resources through wireframing

Imagine this: A client wanted an e-commerce website to showcase their products.

They already had people build the layout for the site; the products were already sorted into categories; and the details of each product and their prices were already on their designated product pages.

All they had to do was input the photos of each item in their set placeholders.

However, the client later realizes that they don’t have the time and resources to have photos taken of each item, and it might be too much work for them to keep updating the site to match the inventory stocks.

All the work is scrapped as the client opts for a catalog page that just lists down what types of items they sell.

Instead of buying directly from the site, people are redirected to send them a message for inquiries and deliveries.

That is one costly web design project that went to waste!

If they first had a wireframe, they would see a visual of what they needed for the site.

They might have seen from the first wireframe that there would be a lot of photos to take if they opted for that format.

It would have saved their team months of work putting together the captions and creating the layout for the site.

Identify potential issues in your design project when you create wireframes

Other than saving your team from doing unnecessary work, creating a wireframe helps you identify potential issues before they become costly problems.

You can easily spot any flaws in the navigation or content structure that might make it difficult for users to find anything on your site before you even launch it!

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It’s easier to spot and solve problems in a wireframe.

A button that leads to the wrong link might seem like a small problem.

But when you have a website that’s already launched and you are leading your customers who want to buy an item to your “About” page instead of the checkout page, you are losing money!

It’s also much easier to make adjustments to a wireframe than to a fully developed and published site.

Step-by-step guide to creating a website wireframe with wireframe examples

Now that we’ve established why wireframing is important, let’s go through the process of creating your website with multiple iterations of your wireframe.

Gather all your site requirements before the design process

Before you start sketching, think of what you need your site to do and what assets you need to accomplish that.

This includes understanding the goals of the site, your target audience, and any specific features or functionalities that you want to include.

For example, if you’re designing a website for a local bakery, you might need pages for the menu, online ordering, location, and hours, as well as a blog for sharing recipes and baking tips.

This is also the ideal time to look into the user interface (UI) design of your competitors or brands in a similar field.

These samples give your team a visual of how you want your site to look or what features you want to include.

Create your sitemap

A sitemap is a high-level diagram that outlines the structure of the website.

It shows the hierarchy of pages on your site and how they are linked together.

Creating a sitemap helps you visualize the overall structure before diving into individual page designs.

Following our bakery example from earlier, its sitemap might include: Home, Menu, Online Ordering, About Us, Blog, and Contact pages.

Define your user flow

User flows illustrate the paths users will take to complete tasks on your site.

By mapping out these flows, you can ensure that users can easily find what they’re looking for and complete desired actions, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

For the bakery, a user flow might show the steps a user takes to order a cake online: Home → Menu → Select Cake → Add to Cart → Checkout.

Figma or Photoshop? Choose your wireframe tool

You can create wireframes using various tools, from a simple hand-drawn sketch on paper and pencil to specialized software.

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At Deer Designer, we use Adobe Photoshop and Figma.

We usually use Photoshop to create wireframes and mockup images.

Figma can be used from wireframing to prototyping, as it allows for a more interactive design process.

Use whichever you are comfortable with.

Getting started with types of wireframes: low fidelity wire frame design

Now that you have your wireframing tools and assets ready, it is time to get started with design!

For this step, a pen-and-paper sketch will do just fine, and you don’t even need great drawing skills.

You just need to sketch the basic layouts for the pages you need.

Focus on the placement of key elements like headers, footers, navigation menus, content areas, and calls to action (CTAs).

Keep it simple and avoid getting caught up in design details at this stage.

You can just have each element on the page as a box placeholder with a label on what you want it to be.

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A low-fidelity wireframe details your basic website structure.

This wireframe helps you refine the placement of elements and ensure that the user flow makes sense while also telling your designers what you would need for the site.

Review and refine your wireframe design

Share your wireframes with your designers and developers for review before you move on to the next step.

This collaborative review process helps identify any issues or improvements that can be made before moving on to high-fidelity designs.

They might be able to recommend certain plugins that make your site more interactive or move assets around to make them more cohesive.

Be open to suggestions and iterate on your wireframes as needed.

Add details with your high-fidelity wireframe

Once the low-fidelity wireframes are sorted out, you can add more detail to create high-fidelity wireframes.

These include more accurate representations of design elements, such as fonts, colors, and images.

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The high-fidelity wireframe is closer to the final design of your site.

This stage of wireframing is more design-intensive, as high-fidelity wireframes provide a clearer picture of the final product.

Now is the time to sort out if you like the colors, fonts, images, arrangement of assets, and general aesthetic of your page.

Create a mockup or interactive wireframes

Once you are okay with the high-fidelity wireframes, it is time to get building.

You can have your design team create a mockup image or an interactive wireframe through Figma.

Your web developer can then build your site based on this design.

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The website mockup is the finalized design you want your developer to build.

The great thing about interactive wireframes is that you can visually see the user journey and be guided as to what page they will see when they click certain links or buttons on your site.

Make sure that your developers get all the necessary details you need, such as design specifications, annotations, and any interactive elements you need.

Should you make a wireframe?

There are more steps to web design than what we have listed here.

You may go through a bunch of iterations and testing with your developer to get your final design.

However, creating a website wireframe can help speed up this web design process and ensure fewer mistakes in the future.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can create effective wireframes that set the foundation for a successful website.

Are you interested in more web design articles? We have a couple of guides here:

➡️5 good web design principles and examples for your web design inspo!

➡️Tips to design your website to convert visitors into customers: conversion-focused web design

➡️Everything you need to learn about SEO for web design to create a high-ranking website

➡️From virtual reality to personalization: The top UX / UI design trends for 2024

Do you need help with website wireframing and website design?

Our professional designers at Deer Designer can make it easier for you.

Book a client-fit call with us, and let’s bring your website vision to life!

Key takeaways

  • While people may say you don’t need a wireframe for your website, it is still ideal to have one if you are working with multiple teams to put your website together.
  • Creating a wireframe for your site can help you focus on user needs and experiences, save time and resources, and prevent costly mistakes.
  • You can start your wireframe with just a pencil and paper sketch or any design tools you are comfortable with. The important part is sorting out the basic functionality of your site and what assets you need for it.
  • There are different types of wireframes, and you iterate over each one until you come up with the final design you want.
  • Having a working prototype helps you visualize the user journey through your site better before you even launch it.