I was reminded of wireframes this week while updating a community website that I didn’t design or build. The website is a Photoshop to WordPress design and I spent my time replacing images and changing CSS to match the graphic designer’s PSD file. Can you tell I love doing that so much? This was common practice with web design back in the day. And so was wireframing. I remember learning best practices for wireframing in school in the early 2000s, but by 2008, I had stopped using the practice completely.
For those that are thinking of becoming a web designer or just getting started in your training process, wireframes are paper (or computer) diagrams of a website. They help you plan your layouts and functionality. They also help you get your clients input on design before you start designing at website. This was much more useful when website were fixed width, hand-coded HTML, but these days, I believe wireframes are totally useless. Here’s why:
- If you are design a site using WordPress, you are most likely starting with a template. Create a site mock up and use that as your wireframe!
- Wireframes are static drawings and diagrams. This worked great with fixed design, but now all design is responsive requiring wireframes for different screen sizes.
- Clients are confused by diagrams. I recently had one think the site map flowchart I sent was an actual website design suggestion!
- If your client does ask for a printout (totally possible) you can use a tool like Fireshot to take a screen shot and create a PDF with it.
It’s still good to have a plan for your website design. Wireframing was a tried and true step in that process that, for me, is no longer needed. I will still sometimes draw a website layout concept when I’m working on a client’s site, but it’s a sketch and it’s just for me. I never share it with the client. It’s more of a doodle than a wireframe. My process now is to create a prototype with just the sitemap in place and then start a mockup. Wireframes never enter my mind anymore.
What are you thoughts on wireframes? Are they still useful in your process? Have you ditched this process like me? We would love to know!