Wireframing is an essential part of the development process, whether you’re a web developer, software developer, or mobile app designer. As a software developer, the success of your product depends on good planning and functionality; and a good wireframe can help you achieve that. Here are five tips on using these tools.
1. Simplicity Is Key
Your software will look great when it’s finished, but only when it’s finished. A wireframe is not a tool for mapping out the visual elements of a design, but rather for nailing down the functionality of the software itself.
Keeping your wireframes simple eases frustration within your team and with the client. Don’t include any color in your wireframe, and only use a maximum of two separate fonts. In some cases, you may actually require more than two, but keeping fonts to a minimum will focus the audience on functionality instead of design.
Many wireframe tools include a complete design interface with drag and drop capabilities, which means coding is kept to a minimum. Notice the theme of simplicity? The designers of these tools understand that a wireframe is merely a blueprint of the final project, and should be kept simple and easy to edit.
Simplicity will benefit you when you’re showing the wireframe to the client as well. You don’t want to distract them with visuals, but rather have them focus on the functionality and whether or not your design has met all of their needs. Don’t forget to ask questions and take the client’s feedback into consideration!
2. Start With A Sketch
You’re probably thinking “isn’t a wireframe just a sketch anyway?”. While that’s technically true, as you can create a wireframe by sketching it, we’re going to focus on digital wireframes for this article.
Before you begin to design a wireframe on a design platform, you should start with a rough sketch. You don’t have to be a Picasso to get it right. In fact, you should expect a certain level of rudeness in the drawing; and that’s alright.
Your sketch is merely a roadmap for your roadmap, so to speak. Take all of those rough ideas, and sketch them onto a piece of paper. You may find that some of your ideas look great in your head but not so great on paper. That’s the purpose of the sketch.
By using a sketch, you cut out some edit time from your wireframe process. This will make transitioning to a wireframe a little easier, and give your team further direction within your project.
3. Use Annotations
Annotations are extra notes on a project that explain certain aspects of the project. These work great in literature and college papers, but they are also an excellent addition to your wireframes.
Annotations serve to explain the placement of elements, suggested edits, and more. You can provide annotations for your client when they’re reviewing the wireframe so you can keep explanations to a minimum, and give the client an idea of what you’re designing for them.
Annotations should only be placed where and when they’re necessary. You don’t exactly need an annotation on every aspect of the design. Place them in areas you’re unsure of or that you can foresee a change occurring.
4. Use The Right Tool For The Job
This should go without saying, but the fact is, there are hundreds of options when it comes to wireframing, and some aren’t of the highest quality. Using the right tool can mean the difference between a great wireframe and a poor one.
When you search for the right tool, be sure to understand what you’re looking for. You want a tool that is simple, easy to teach and includes collaboration tools within the interface. You’ll want to keep both your team and your client informed without unnecessary downloads and emails.
Some wireframe tools include an interface that works all the way up through the prototype. This might be the best option to keep things centralized, so you’re not moving from platform to platform throughout your design.
Whatever tool you choose, be sure to research its capabilities and limitations beforehand. The last thing you want is a surprise halfway through a project. Your clients won’t appreciate a delay, and your team members will likely become frustrated with the inadequacy of the tool you’ve chosen.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Good communication can literally make or break an entire project. Many wireframe interfaces also include collaboration tools, so you may want to consider using one of these for easy communication within the group.
Keep your clients and team members up to date with your changes and edits of their work, and always ask for feedback. This can be intimidating, but it’s an important part of the design process. The professional opinions of your colleagues and the people paying you for the design can inspire you to try new things and improve your craft.
Wireframes are one of the best tools for software developers. Keep your designs simple to make them easy to edit and pitch to team members and clients. Make sure you’re choosing the right tool so you don’t waste time and money, and always communicate with your team and your clients. Following these tips will ensure your project is of the highest quality, is on time, and meets or exceeds customer expectations.