Feedback during the initial stages of a project is of paramount importance. Achieving perfect results in the first go is next to impossible and thus, we need to take relevant feedback from the stakeholders and clients on a regular basis.
Why use the power of visuals?
It is a well-known fact that visual content is better accepted by the audience. In order to meet the gargantuan task of delivering perfect results, you can follow a standard rule – ‘Show it, don’t tell it’. Your clients or stakeholders won’t be interested in hundreds of pages that only contain text.
Creating clear and concise wireframes is an excellent idea; it can be used to provide updates to participants during the initial stages of the project and gives you the ability to incorporate their suggestions as nothing concrete has been programmed at this juncture. Before we move ahead, let’s take a closer look at wireframes.
What are wireframes?
Wireframes can be defined as simple block diagrams which display the positioning of elements in a UI (User Interface), and describe the proposed design and functionality of a solution. They do not contain any typical features like images, colours, text, etc. Instead they inform the user about the following elements of design:
- List of elements to be displayed in final UI
- Tentative positioning of the elements
- Functioning of the user interface
- Proposed user interaction with the elements of application and/or website
Wireframes are not typical designing tools, they are kept vague on purpose and have a deliberate lack of detail. The prime objective of wireframes is to keep the conversation focused on high-priority questions only.
Who can all benefit from wireframes?
Everybody involved in the design process can benefit from wireframes as they make an effective communication tool between the concerned users. Let’s see how different users can benefit from wireframes.
They can utilize the wireframes to get a clear understanding of the solution’s proposed technical and functional capabilities. With multiple wireframes in a storyboard, developers can envision how a series of user interactions will function together.
They get a clear vision about the visuals of the final UI. Wireframes act as skeletal layouts that can be designed using a wide array of design elements like fonts, colours, mock-ups and more.
3. Project Managers
Keeping the stakeholders on the same page can be a daunting task for the project managers. Using wireframes help them resolve this concern and they are also able to keep a track of the changes being made. They can be in sync with the progress and suggest any inputs from the client’s end.
Wireframes save the clients from a world of trouble and allow them to understand the proposed solutions easily. They can express their concerns and inform the respective team about issues or elements missing in the UI. Wireframes also open up space for new aspects which wouldn’t have been considered if discussed in textual format. It is beneficial to resolve all the aforementioned problems and more in the wireframing stage as it is difficult to make amendments once the code is set.
Which tool should be used to create a wireframe?
There is no hard-and-fast rule or a tool to create a wireframe. The creative process can be initiated on a piece of paper. Once the rough outline is ready, you can create a layout in PowerPoint, Paint or any other tool of your choice. The following image shows a typical wireframe created in PowerPoint:
As you can see in the image above, each design element has been placed strategically to describe how the final UI will look like. What are the benefits of creating such a simple wireframe? Here are a few:
- Describes the elements in a clean layout
- Easy to reorganize
- Provides a template for UI elements like grids, menus, buttons and more
- Easy to share with users involved
- Allows simultaneous working on multiple ends
- Opens opportunity for early and ongoing feedback
Wireframes bring an agility in your project and allow you to create a vision and prospective outline in few easy steps. The level of detailing and number of elements can vary from project-to-project. The aim of these designs is to promote understanding of the final UI with a scope for improvement as the project progresses.
Need some practical wireframing tips? Here are top 10 points that you should keep in mind when creating wireframes:
1. Keep it simple
Do not get carried away and keep the wireframes simple. There is no need to decorate or add graphical elements initially. Little design features like colour or bevel effects are distracting and will divert the discussion towards low-priority elements.
2. Regular feedback
Work smart, do not divulge details from the start. Share the first draft with your co-workers and clients to get an initial feedback. Just follow the simple process – Convey the elementary idea > wait for feedback from stakeholders > implement the iterations until requirements are met.
3. Second opinion
It’s not a bad idea to get feedback from a person who isn’t directly involved in the project. This can help you get a fresh perspective from a general spectator’s point of view.
4. Be open to criticism
The sole purpose of wireframes is to create the best designs. When your wireframes are criticized, let the cool head prevail and use the discussion to generate the best ideas.
5. Empathize with your user
Try to think from the user’s perspective and create a design that fits with your target audience’s requirements. Incorporating Empathy in Product Design to Improve User Experience is always a great idea and useful in understanding different personas.
Never hesitate to experiment with different layouts. Thinking out of the box and creating innovative wireframes can often result in better ideas.
7. Annotate as and when required
Any functionality should be self-explanatory through annotations and notes. Specify everything, for example, the function of a button when it is clicked, elements of a drop-down box, sliding contact form, etc.
8. Visually interactive storyboards
When creating a storyboard, make sure the collection of wireframes is well coordinated with the sequence of user interaction on the final product. You can also use different features of a tool to create a prototype that utilizes clicks.
9. Explain everything before sharing
Make sure you provide a proper explanation for the clients before sending them a wireframe. It is possible that they might have a tough time understanding the details without the relevant information at hand. A walkthrough is a good idea and can help address majority of the questions instantly.
10. Know when to stop
The objective of wireframes is to communicate the key information to the concerned participants. Be careful that you stop when the required information is mentioned and let there be room for changes after feedback.
Wireframes are a brilliant way to initiate a development project. They help all the participants reach consensus with the project’s objectives. It puts forth the ideas in a tangible form and opens up avenues for discussion and brainstorming. They are easy to create, edit and keep the users on track without focusing on low-priority elements like colours and fonts.