Before embarking on the design of a new website, there is a vital stage in the process which cannot be missed if you want your website to succeed in engaging with your target audience or audiences. This stage is referred to as wireframing.
What are wireframes?
Wireframes are essentially the architectural plans for your website. Before you build a house, you would instruct an architect to plan out the rooms and primary features such as the plumbing and light fittings. The same approach is applied to building websites.
After confirming a navigational structure, we start to map out the components required for each of the web pages. The graphical diagrams do not include colour or imagery, they are the skeleton of the site. What content should be included on the page, how do we want the audience to act when on the page, what should the call to actions be and where should they be placed? Are there any downloads required for the page, such as a brochure, should there be a live chat, where should the social icons and feeds be displayed, and how does this page interact and link to other relevant pages within the site? These are all common questions we ask when we plan out the wireframes of a website.
How do I cater for different audiences using the same website?
Not every reader on your site is always after the same piece of information. For example, an estate agent could be looking to engage with house buyers, house sellers, landlords and tenants. Each of these target audiences are arriving on the site for different reasons, and as such their journeys should be mapped out individually for each of them, to ensure their user experience is optimal.
It is also imperative to remember that not every visitor to your site will land on the home page as their first point of interaction. Knowing this, wireframes must be applied not only to the home page, but to all primary and sub pages within the site.
Websites that require a specific action from the audience, such as an ecommerce site, or a site taking bookings, the steps must be mapped out clearly to make the purchasing process as efficient and smooth as possible. Having complex sites where the navigation and structure haven’t been thought out often result in higher bounce rates, as people cannot find the information they require quickly.
Why do I need wireframes?
We see this situation all too often, and it is sad to say that we can spot a website that hasn’t had the investment of time spent on planning and wireframing the structure and content. So yes, we would strongly advise that every new website project requires wireframes.
We always say that a site should continually be updated, added to and refreshed with relevant content. However, without the thought process at the outset to plan out the site, you could soon start to see the need for major structural changes to the site which could have been avoided if wireframes had been created.