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Why Wireframe?

Alex Christie

28 January 2008

A wireframe is an industry tool for rapidly prototyping a website. They roughly approximate the layout, content and hierarchy of a web page as well as the relationship between pages. Effectively you are building a rough version of the site.

Wireframes don’t look attractive. They are not designed as such. They give a sense of how things will be organised on your site. In many cases they lack colour and imagery, although there is no reason why they should. However, they do show visual hierarchy through layout, font size and shading.

So why produce a wireframe?

  • They act as a reference point for the designer to work from, demonstrating the relative importance of various screen elements
  • They can be used to test with. This enables you to ensure users can navigate a site and find key content on a page
  • They help flush out the details of a site that are often missed. These include things like password recovery and error handling
  • They help to define interactive elements such as AJAX and Javascript in a way a static Photoshop mockup cannot
  • They help the client to visualise how the site will work
  • They identify navigational issues which may need resolving
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