Website Wireframe Beginner's Guide: Processes, Tools, & Examples (2022)

Marketers often like to think about websites strictly in terms of design or conversions, but user experience (UX) is the way to bridge the gap and ensure your design converts.

Website Wireframe Beginner's Guide: Processes, Tools, & Examples (1)

By taking the time to create a wireframe when building or redesigning a website, you can focus on the user experience as a separate (but connected) piece of the puzzle. A wireframe enables you to test drive the page layout and evaluate user flows in order to see exactly how the new website will function and find any potential mistakes that might eventually get in the way of conversions.

In this post, we’ll cover exactly what the wireframing process looks like for websites, the types of wireframes you can use, and how to create a wireframe for your own project.

What is a website wireframe?

A website wireframe is used to map out the main features and navigation of a new website design. It gives an idea of the site's functionality before considering visual design elements, like content and color schemes.

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Layouts and features such as menus and buttons are mapped out to assess the overall experience of the end user.

A website wireframe also provides a practical map of the project for team members to see where everything will go as they complete related tasks.

Some designers or clients may tempt you to skip this part of the process, calling it unnecessary and time-consuming. But wireframing is about preparing yourself and all good preparations require time. And working without a plan usually takes up even more time and you run the risk of a project failing altogether.

You should always create a wireframe in the early development stages because it will help you reveal errors in judgment or design, giving you time to correct them. In terms of collaboration, you can use wireframes to work effectively with your team and explain concepts to your clients.

Some wireframes are more detailed than others. It's wise to start with a low-fidelity wireframe. Low-fidelity wireframes show the general localization of elements on the screen. You can develop these initial designs into more high-fidelity wireframes, which provide more details — such as what the final elements will look like.

Whether you use a low-fidelity or high-fidelity wireframe will depend on what your project needs at the time.

Why create a website wireframe?

There’s a few reasons to create a website wireframe, but the most important is that it enables you to identify and take every opportunity to improve your site’s functionality, ease of use, and convenience in order to delight your users. It can also help your design team collaborate better and gather feedback from clients before the design process is too far along.

(Video) How To Create Your First Wireframe (Video Guide)

By providing a glimpse into how visitors will interact with your site, a website wireframe can reveal any aspects of its design or functionality that could be improved to better assist users in reaching their goals. These goals might include: making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or reading a blog post. Identifying any points of friction at this stage of the design process is much more ideal than discovering them after you’ve decided on colors, fonts, and imagery.

How to Create a Simple Wireframe

Website Wireframe Beginner's Guide: Processes, Tools, & Examples (4)

1. Identify the goal of the website.

Before taking pen to paper to mock up a wireframe, you’ll find it helpful to understand the goal of your website. While it might seem obvious that you want to bring in as much traffic as your server can handle, think through what you want all those visitors to see and do while you’ve got their attention. Should they end their visit with a purchase? Should they download an app? Perhaps you’d like them to view a certain page before dropping off to another website entirely. Whatever your goal is, make sure your team is aligned around it so that the subsequent steps flow smoothly until you take your site to production.

2. Understand the user flow.

Wireframes help you identify and evaluate user flows so that everyone on your team understands how the visitor should interact with each page on your site. During this step, you should outline each entry point a visitor could use to land on your homepage, then choose a few primary entry points to create a journey flow.

Take some time to outline your user flow in a text format before sketching a wireframe. Why? It’s much easier and faster to move steps around when they’re simply written out rather than mocked up as a wireframe.

3. Determine your website wireframe size.

Your wireframes will need to vary in size depending on what screen size you’re creating it for. Mobile devices, tablets, and desktop screens will vary in size — not to mention the window on a desktop can be scaled up or down. To get the most accurate measurements for your wireframe, use pixel measurements rather than inches or points. Here are the standard sizes for each screen type:

Wireframe size for a mobile screen

1080px wide x 1920px long

Wireframe size for a tablet screen

8” Tablet - 800px wide x 1280px long

10” Tablet - 1200px wide x 19200px long

Wireframe size for a desktop screen

768px wide x 1366px long

4. Begin your website wireframe design.

Now it’s time to visualize your user flow in a wireframe. If you’re using physical pen and paper, we recommend using dotted paper or grid paper to keep things in alignment. This will help you transform the physical version of your wireframe to a digital copy more easily.

If you’re starting on a digital platform, choose a tool that works best for your wireframe fidelity needs. If you’re not sure whether to use low, medium, or high fidelity, check out this comprehensive wireframe fidelity guide on the topic.

5. Determine conversion points.

Once you’ve got your wireframes sketched, it’s time to decide exactly how the user should move through each step. Just because you’ve outlined the steps the user should take doesn’t mean they’re intuitive for them to flow through. At this stage, you’ll determine what buttons, hyperlinks, images, or other elements on the page will guide the reader onto the next step until they reach the end goal that we discussed in step 1.

6. Remove redundant steps.

Wireframing is an iterative process. It’s rare to do a single round of sketching wireframes that are production-ready. You might notice some web pages are redundant and can be combined to create fewer clicks for the user. Wherever an opportunity exists to simplify your wireframe, sketch it out and solicit feedback — that brings me to our last step…

7. Get feedback on the wireframe.

Your website will go through several rounds of tests and revisions before it goes live, but it’s still a good idea to get feedback on your wireframes in the beginning stages. Collaborate with your design and development teams, as well as any internal staff, and customers to get their opinion on the flow itself. Getting input now prevents the essence of the UX from getting lost after adding buttons, screens, and page layouts into the mix.

Wireframe Examples

Below are some of the best examples of wireframe types to light up your creative zones and help you solidify the wireframing process that works for you.

(Video) How To Create Your First Wireframe (A UX Tutorial)

1. Sketch

Some developers begin their sketching with a pencil and paper or a whiteboard. This simple, hand-drawn method illustrates a basic concept before spending time fussing with graphical elements.

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2. Detailed Hand-Drawn Wireframe

Hand-drawn wireframes don't always have to be simple. You can use a ruler in addition to your pencil and paper to create a more detailed design. However, it might be more convenient to use a digital wireframe tool for such detailed work since your hand-drawn efforts may be difficult to digitize.

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3. Low-Fidelity Wireframe

Low-fidelity wireframes are created digitally and display elements in simple content blocks, taking your basic concept sketch and turning it into something more refined. Low-fidelity wireframes are important for determining what graphical elements need to be created and what copy needs to be written.

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4. Low-Fidelity Mobile Wireframe

Don't forget that responsive versions of your website and mobile apps get wireframes too. Many designers even wireframe the mobile version first since website visitors are visiting sites on mobile more often than ever before.

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5. High-Fidelity Wireframe

Using digital tools, you can create a high-fidelity wireframe that illustrates in more detail without the creation of too many graphical elements. This results in a more aesthetic look without time-consuming design work that could be thrown out in the review process anyway.

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6. Low-Fidelity Interactive Wireframe

Websites aren't static, so why should your wireframe be? There are many interactive wireframe tools that can help you demonstrate your user experience flow before committing to your graphics.

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(Video) How to wireframe a website | CharliMarieTV

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7. Wireframe Mockup

Once the bones of the design have been approved, you can then create graphical elements to flesh out the design. This is called a mockup.

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8. Interactive Wireframe Mockup

You can also use wireframe tools to create an interactive mockup without creating the actual site, complete with a UI Kit and graphical elements. This step can be helpful if you have a design team that is handing off the site implementation to developers because they can review both the intended look and functionality of the site, resulting in a more streamlined workflow with fewer revisions needed.

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These are just a few examples but they show how website wireframing can be achieved in different ways.

9. Free Website Wireframe

If you’re on a budget, you can explore free website wireframing tools like Miro. This one in particular will give you the basic wireframe capabilities that work great for low to medium fidelity mockups.

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10. Mobile Website Wireframe

Mobile responsiveness is an essential web design best practice. Creating a wireframe for the mobile version of your website specifically is a key step for a successful website in general. You’ll fare better with UX, SEO, and conversions as a result of prioritizing mobile web design.

There a few different approaches to building a mobile wireframe. You might condense all of your desktop features to fit onto a mobile screen. Or you may limit some functionality altogether to yield a mobile-friendly experience.

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Mockup vs. Wireframe vs. Prototype

A wireframe is the first step to communicating your website ideas to other people. It provides a basic foundation from which other people can see and understand. A mockup goes a step further, illustrating the expected appearance of the product. A prototype can be created after a wireframe and mockup have gone through the design approval process.

(Video) How to Design a Website – A UX Wireframe Tutorial

Prototypes provide even more detail about the website design, revolving around the feel of the website for the user and basic functionality — such as demonstrating what an element looks like when you hover your mouse over it.

Wireframes, mockups, and prototypes are similar pieces in the website development process and involve design steps that happen in close succession to one another. Sometimes, they can overlap depending on the designer’s needs.

This explains why some people find it difficult to understand the differences between these three concepts.

So what's the difference between a mockup vs. wireframe vs. prototype?

The best way to summarize the difference between a mockup vs. wireframe vs. prototype is by illustrating an example: where a wireframe shows a blank rectangular box, a mockup shows a resulting blue button, and a prototype shows what it looks like when it's clicked.

Here's an example of a wireframe vs. mockup:

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Here's another example that shows a mockup vs. prototype:

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How a Website Wireframe Improves the Design Process

If you want a functional website, you must first start by making a proper plan for executing the design. With a wireframe, you can easily map out the elements of each page and make changes as you see necessary. When your project is near completion, the number of errors will be significantly reduced by taking the time to create wireframes.

Start with a low-fidelity wireframe and take your time adding details. When shopping for a tool, exercise similar caution to find one that fits your specific design needs.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Topics: Website Design

(Video) A Beginner’s Guide to Wireframing

FAQs

How do you wireframe for beginners? ›

What is wireframe with example? ›

Wireframes are the skeleton of a website, they show the structure and user flow. There are different levels of wireframes, from quick sketches to low and high-fidelity. But they all share a goal to align on content before finalizing the design.

How do you explain a wireframe for a website? ›

A wireframe is a two-dimensional illustration of a page's interface that specifically focuses on space allocation and prioritization of content, functionalities available, and intended behaviors. For these reasons, wireframes typically do not include any styling, color, or graphics.

What is wireframe tool? ›

What are wireframe tools? Wireframe tools allow designers to quickly and effectively mock up an outline of a design as easily as possible. Designers are able to drag and drop placeholders for images, headers, and content and easily move them around to create a first draft that can be iterated on later.

What is the best tool for wireframe? ›

Paid Wireframe Tools
  • Adobe XD.
  • InVision Studio.
  • Sketch.
  • Figma.
  • Canva.
  • Proto.io.
  • Moqups.
  • Balsamiq.
14 Sept 2022

What is website example? ›

A website (also written as a web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. Examples of notable websites are Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Wikipedia.

Which tools is used to create a wireframe of a website? ›

Our top choice as the best wireframe tool overall is UXPin (opens in new tab). This is a dedicated wireframing tool with a wonderfully intuitive interface. It has clear icons and a solid library of UI elements you can drag and drop into your wireframes, as well as components for Bootstrap, Foundation, iOS and Android.

What are the 3 different components of a wireframe? ›

The skeleton plan of a website can be broken down into three components: information design, navigation design, and interface design.

What are the 7 steps in creating website? ›

How to plan a website in 7 steps
  1. Identify your website goals.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Define your unique selling proposition.
  4. Secure a domain name (and hosting).
  5. Pick a website builder.
  6. Create and collect design elements.
  7. Create content for your core website pages.
20 Jun 2019

What is Step 5 in basic steps of design process? ›

The short form of the design thinking process can be articulated in five steps or phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

What are the types of wireframe? ›

There are three main types of wireframes: low-fidelity wireframes, mid-fidelity wireframes, and high-fidelity wireframes. The most significant distinguishing factor between these wireframes is the amount of detail they contain.

What is wireframe format? ›

A wireframe is a low-fidelity design layout that serves three simple but exact purposes: It presents the information that will be displayed on the page. It gives an outline of structure and layout of the page. It conveys the overall direction and description of the user interface.

Why is it called wireframe? ›

Originally, wireframes were used to show 3D objects in Computer Aided Design (CAD). You'd probably recognize the style, used in manufacturing to depict the design of cars without the need for detail, leaving the drawing looking like it's made out of wires - hence, you guessed it, the term 'wireframe'.

What are the 10 steps to create a website? ›

10 Steps to Create A Successful Website in 2020
  1. Step 1: Picking Your Domain Name.
  2. Step 2: Picking Your Web Hosting Plan.
  3. Step 3: Customize Your Website.
  4. Step 4: Creating Content.
  5. Step 5: Generate Traffic.
  6. Step 6: Optimize for SEO.
  7. Step 7: Keep Your Visitors Clicking.
  8. Step 8: Avoid Scaring Off Your Visitors.
30 Jan 2020

What are the 4 stages of web design? ›

Conclusion
  • Why Is It Important to Plan and Lay Out Before Building Your Site?
  • Stage 1: Architecture | Layout.
  • Stage 2: Content | SEO | Navigation.
  • Stage 3: Graphics | Colors | Multimedia.
  • Stage 4: Launching | Analyzing | Revising.
  • How To Set Your Web Design Goals.
  • Conclusion.
31 Mar 2022

Where is wireframe used? ›

A wireframe is commonly used to layout content and functionality on a page which takes into account user needs and user journeys. Wireframes are used early in the development process to establish the basic structure of a page before visual design and content is added.

Is wireframing UX or UI? ›

Wireframes are a very useful tool for UX designers. They act as blueprints—UX designers can ensure that they are heading in the right direction before putting a lot of time into full mockups of the user interface complete with colors, fonts, and other design elements.

What is the most important part of wireframe? ›

Refining your content structure is the most important goal of the wireframing stage, which is why you should keep your wireframes simple. The time for visual creativity comes later.

How do I wireframe a website in HTML? ›

Steps to Make Wireframe to HTML/CSS
  1. Step 1: Create a New Peoject. ...
  2. Step 2: Drag and Drop the Widgets. ...
  3. Step 3: Export Wireframes to HTML5. ...
  4. Tip 1: Be as Specific as Possible. ...
  5. Tip 2: Render Code from Developer's Point of View. ...
  6. Tip 3: Use Annotations. ...
  7. Tip 4: Use HTML Based Tools. ...
  8. These are Reality-Based.
25 Sept 2020

What is a HTML wireframe? ›

A wireframe is a low fidelity representation of a web page that shows the basic elements of the page. They are not interactive, and do not show much detail, but create a simple design that guides the project. Once it starts becoming interactive, it becomes a prototype.

What is wireframe model in web design? ›

A wireframe is a schematic or blueprint that is useful for helping you, your programmers and designers think and communicate about the structure of the software or website you're building.

How do I create a wireframe in Word? ›

Website Project Plan and Wireframe - Using Microsoft Word! - YouTube

How do I turn a picture into a wireframe? ›

How to Convert an Image to a Wireframe
  1. Open an image in Photoshop and press "Ctrl-J" to duplicate the original image's layer. ...
  2. From the menu bar, choose "Filter" and then "Blur." To increase the amount of blur, select "Gaussian Blur" and drag the slider to the right.
24 Dec 2021

What are wireframe diagrams? ›

A wireframe is a diagram or a set of diagrams that consists of simple lines and shapes representing the skeleton of a website or an application's user interface (UI) and core functionality. Get a more in-depth explanation of what UX wireframes are, what they look like, and how they can benefit your team.

What makes a good wireframe? ›

Don't overcomplicate your wireframes. Keeping it simple will allow you to focus on the bigger picture and avoid distractions. Wireframes should clearly describe the usability and functionality of your app. You don't need to get into the nitty-gritty details or the final look of the design.

Can I make wireframes in Powerpoint? ›

There is an option to select the particular device and layout screen of your choice to create a high-fidelity wireframe. You can also include all sorts of interactive transitions, animations, media, links, and other dynamic elements in your projects. It also supports the import/export of files of different formats.

How long does it take to make a wireframe? ›

The Designer Creates Wireframes (4-7 Days).

Before your designer dives deep into drafting a mockup, it's best to start with the basic structure of your main website pages. They can do this by creating wireframes. Wireframes act as a blueprint for the entire site.

How do I create a graphic data in Excel? ›

Create a chart
  1. Select the data for which you want to create a chart.
  2. Click INSERT > Recommended Charts.
  3. On the Recommended Charts tab, scroll through the list of charts that Excel recommends for your data, and click any chart to see how your data will look. ...
  4. When you find the chart you like, click it > OK.

What is wire image? ›

About. WireImage is a digital photo agency facilitating photos of all major events for magazines, websites, TV programs and wireless apps. New York, New York, United States.

Can wireframes have images? ›

There are multiple ways to add images and icons to your wireframes. The easiest way is to simply drag and drop an image file from your computer on to the wireframes canvas. But be aware that adding a lot of images - or a small number of very large images - to your project can reduce the efficiency of your project.

What is website example? ›

A website (also written as a web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. Examples of notable websites are Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Wikipedia.

What is the best tool for wireframe? ›

Paid Wireframe Tools
  • Adobe XD.
  • InVision Studio.
  • Sketch.
  • Figma.
  • Canva.
  • Proto.io.
  • Moqups.
  • Balsamiq.
14 Sept 2022

What are the types of wireframe? ›

There are three main types of wireframes: low-fidelity wireframes, mid-fidelity wireframes, and high-fidelity wireframes. The most significant distinguishing factor between these wireframes is the amount of detail they contain.

Videos

1. How to Use Balsamiq Wireframes (Beginners Tutorial)
(ulearn)
2. Wireframing Basics: The Easy Way to Get Started
(InVision)
3. Creating a Website Wireframe in draw.io
(Mr Dimmick's Computing Channel)
4. 4. Creating a Simple Wireframe - Getting Started with Balsamiq Wireframes
(Balsamiq)
5. My 5 BEST wireframe & prototyping tools for UI/UX Designers (2020)
(Sara Brunettini)
6. UI Design Tutorial - Website From Wireframe
(freeCodeCamp.org)

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