Wireframes: For Websites That Serve the Human OS

First impressions are tough. Your website has 1/20th of a second for users to make a judgment, and if it passes that test, you have less than eight seconds to get them what they want.

The challenge is striking that delicate balance of giving them all the information they want, but not overwhelming the user at the same time.

wireframe-blog-1 A wireframe determines information hierarchy on the page as well as what elements belong and where they should be placed.

The Wireframe

When designing a custom website, a wireframe is a layout clearly showing what the user will experience, without getting caught up in design elements like color for the background or using a serif vs. sanserif font.

Website wireframes are the equivalent to the foundation and framing-in of a house. The goal of the wireframe is to determine an information hierarchy on the page as well as what elements belong and where they should be placed.

When determining where the elements belong, you have to dig into the minds of your user and anticipate what they need and want. At the core, we go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Users’ brains expect website elements to be easily understood and in familiar places. If you put navigation tabs in strange places or make it difficult for users to find the information they are looking for, then your site starts to feel untrustworthy, and it is highly probable users will abandon your site and look elsewhere.

After we design a wireframe for a webpage that makes visitors feel safe, what’s next?  Back to our eight seconds of attention span (goldfish will give you nine seconds of their attention). If the users have to spend too much time navigating a site to find the needed information, they will likely abandon the site and find a more user-friendly one that offers the same information. People want access to all the information, but do not want to work to get it. On the other hand, we don’t want to overwhelm users with information; we want to make sure they can get just enough information and then decide from there if they want to dive deeper. That is, we want to make the most pertinent information easy to find. That’s why wireframes are so crucial.  They determine how the content is delivered ideally in the most simple and succinct way possible. Are the call-to-action buttons easy to find?  Will the user know when a section with more information can expand or collapse? This information is determined at the wireframe level.

wireframe-blog-2

Now that’s good UX.

We all, on some level, appreciate art and beauty. It’s easy to want to skip the wireframe stage and get to colors, fonts, and images, but wireframing first to establish optimal user experience (UX) will make your site more effective and more user-friendly. Think of your users driving in the fast lane of the information highway, you have 50 milliseconds to convince them they are interested in your site and eight more seconds to get them the information they need.

If you want a navigator on this journey, we are here to help!