Wireframes

Wireframes

Dec 4th, 2009 by Max Tokman

As a development agency, we often need to create mockups for our design partners, and wireframes are a great way to share thoughts visually. Wireframes are composed of shapes, text blocks and diagrams that will convey to the designer the position of page elements. Wireframes can be thought of a digital sketch, allowing team members to rapidly determine the overall shape and feel of each page, without needing to worry about color, images or font styles. There is no criteria to determine the complexity of a wireframe other than everyone should be understand what is being represented on screen.


There are several excellent wireframe and prototyping tools; these include Balsamiq and Axure, but I'm going to talk a little about Hotgloo. Hotgloo, being a web based application, means its possible for remote team members to edit wireframes and allows clients to append notes. Another useful feature of Hotgloo is its auto alignment tools; other applications by default require the user to manually align objects such as navigation menus. Hotgloo automatically projects the horizontal, vertical and center of grouped objects; its an extremely handy feature for anyone who has used more complex tools and it boosts productivity.

Its much easier to edit or scrap a wireframe than it is to make changes in Photoshop or to coded pages. Being devoid of color and other design flourishes, wireframes allows most people to immediately grasp what needs to be on a page and not worry about how its looks. There are those who have difficulty seeing how a wireframe correlates to a finished product, and in those cases, a prototyping tool such as Axure comes is better suited, because its designed for interactivity such as dropdown menus and hyperlinking.

Wireframing may seem to add another step in the creative process, but it will shorten the time designers spend in Photoshop trying to determine both IA (information architecture) and page styling. Each step down the line a change has to be performed, means in the potential for delays and cost overruns; wireframes play a big part in eliminating this by catching issues early.
 

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