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What Is Wireframing?

In software, wireframing is a way to quickly visualize the user interface of an application during the design phases.  The purpose behind wireframes is to allow a software team to visually explore different ideas easily and cheaply before deciding on a final design that will be coded.

The Look of Wireframes

In many ways, wireframes are like the blueprint of your application.  They focuses on the functional aspects of software and not the look and feel. Because of this, you may be surprised at the simplicity of wireframes. Some look like hand drawn sketches and others are simple boxes and text. This is on purpose.

When you are at the wireframing stage of software design, you are just starting to shape how the future application will work as a whole. Your goal is to focus on the features, functions, and workflow of the application first.  These are foundational to building great software.

A Focus On Features

Another reason to focus on the features and functions first is that it is easy to get distracted with colors, fonts, image placement and verbiage during the early stages of design. You may be attracted to one design because of it’s colors and wow factor, while paying less attention to how the application will be used by your intended audience.  Because of this, it is often a good idea to focus on the branding and creative elements of your application after the functional design of the screens is complete.

Wireframing normally involves depicting:

  • How each screen is laid out
  • The fields on each screen
  • Whether they are required, optional, or different by user group
  • How a user transitions from screen to screen
  • The navigation of the system

With these foundational elements documented in wireframes, you will be able to visualize the future application, get feedback and try out new ideas until you have the final design you want.

Because it is much cheaper to make changes on on a wireframe than in code, wireframing keeps you focused on what matters most at this stage in your software design. This is to quickly and cheaply arrive at your final design through exploring ideas, seeing how they work, getting feedback, iterating and refining until you have the design you love.

If you are interested in wireframing, there are many wireframe tools available for you to try.  Our favorites include Mockflow, Balsamiq, Axure, and Visio.

The Checklist For Sharing Your Software Vision

Before you start developing your software app, clarify and write down your thoughts and ideas so they can be consistently and easily shared and understood. To help you get started on the right foot, we have created a checklist.

You can grab a copy of that checklist below and share it with your team!

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