Wireframes in UX Design: What Are They And How To Design Them (Updated 2020)

Wireframes in UX Design: What Are They And How To Design Them (Updated 2020)
by Tim Moad
19 Sep 2020
13 min read
Introducing: The YouTube Marketing Hub, A Free Resource Library

Your inability to come up with a good wireframe is the equivalent of an architect having a bad floor design. If you wish to create a digital product that is easy to use and articulates all the information that it should then learning about wireframes will come handy. In this article, you will learn about:

 

  1. What Are Wireframes Used For In UX Design?
  2. Free Wireframe Softwares For UX Design
  3. The Right Methodology For Creating A Wireframe For UX Design

 

Are you new to UX Design? Make sure to check out our FREE Beginner’s Guide which will help you get started in the field of UX. In case you are looking for a personal consultation, please message me on my Instagram handle!

Now before we get started, here’s a little something to catch you up with the basics of Wireframes:

 

What Are Wireframes Used For In UX Design?

A wireframe is a basic representation of your user interface. It is stripped of any visual design. The objective of having a wireframe is to convey the basic idea of your product eloquently. Consider your wireframe as a basic sketch for any masterpiece or the 2D CAD modeling for a state-of-the-art engine. Wireframes are vital in the initial phases of product planning. They help weave your ideas and give a basic structure of the final outcome. Here are a few examples of wireframes that ended up becoming distinguished digital products.

wireframe-ux-design

Wireframe Of Facebook
Source: LucidChart 

wireframe-ux-design-1

Wireframe Of Amazon
Source: 
UX Collective

Fun Fact: A website wireframe is also known as a page schematic or screen blueprint!

It must be evident from the above-shown examples that the goal of wireframes is to convey what the screen does instead of displaying what it looks like. Getting started in the field of UX means a lot of practice with designing wireframes. This will not only make developing good UX Experience for digital products intuitive but will also help you in building a good information architecture for a digital product. So where should one begin? Read on to learn about free Wireframe Softwares for a good UX Design.

 

Free Wireframe Softwares For UX Design

Are you ready to buy insanely expensive software that might help you in designing useful wireframes? No? Good! Because you don’t need expensive software. The number one mistake new UX Designers make while embarking on their UX Journey is letting their enthusiasm buy expensive yet redundant things. The best tool for designing wireframes is a pencil. Start by sketching a very plain and basic layout for a digital product. Even Da Vinci had to work on a basic sketch for Mona Lisa before he turned it into a Masterpiece:

wireframw-ux-design-2

Source: Da Vinci Pinterest

Once you are comfortable in sketching low fidelity wireframes, you can move ahead with using free software to level up your wireframe game. Do note that some digital products do not require fancy software for designing wireframes. If a pencil and basic sketch will suffice, then there is no need for you to bang your head against complicated software. Also, understand that just because you are using software does not mean that you have to produce a complicated wireframe. Always remember that a good wireframe is simple and should be self-explanatory.

Insight: The goal of wireframes is to convey what the screen does instead of displaying what it looks like.

Before you take a plunge into using software, try sketching out the wireframes of popular digital products, this includes the likes of Reddit, Pinterest, Tinder, goat.comtheprotoprocess.com, etc. I will be more than happy to give you personal feedback on them. Please feel free to email them over and send me a DM on Instagram for speedy feedback!

Adobe XD is a vector-based software. Thus it allows you to design and manipulate images using geometric and mathematical commands instead of clicks and strokes. Do not be overwhelmed by the words ‘geometric’ and ‘mathematical based’. If you are using Adobe XD for creating wireframes, chances are you will not be using the vector-based features that much. It is a good idea to start with Adobe because its functionality does beyond just creating wireframes. Somewhere down your UX journey, you will have to come back to XD for designing other parts of your digital product and for prototyping (more about it later). Here’s a detailed breakdown for the advantages and disadvantages of using Adobe XD:

If this piques your interest, then download Adobe XD. But before you do, you might want to read on. Perhaps there’s another wireframe software that will resonate more with your needs and style.

If you are looking to use a software that will let you replicate the wireframe sketching experience then wireframe.cc is the answer. This software is basic and therefore, intuitive. It is like the tech version of using a pencil for designing wireframes. Unlike Adobe XD, the sole purpose of Wireframe.cc is to create wireframes. Moreover, it allows you to achieve the right level of detail fast!

Since wireframe.cc is a cloud-based platform, it enables you to access your designs and sketches from anywhere around the world, making wireframe design on the go relatively easy. Although Adobe XD also has the option of sharing your local file and accessing it from around the world, the cloud functionality for it is rather laggy and slows you down. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of using wireframe.cc.

And now to my favorite software for designing wireframes: LucidChart. Since wireframing typically begins with high-level structural work and organization of thoughts, flowcharts are an excellent tool to utilize. LucidChart is a user-friendly website with thousands of templates. These templates, when used in the right way, will help you organize the content and information flow of your digital product. When done right, these charts will be the most viable in not only conveying the functionality of your digital product but also in improving upon it. 

Signing up for LucidChart will allow you to use their basic template. You will have to pay a small membership fee to access the premium templates. Signing up for free allows working on four to five documents simultaneously. This is more than enough if you are just starting with UX. A key feature of LucidChart is that it allows you to download your designs without any additional charges. Here’s the pros and cons table for LucidChart

Now that you know what wireframes are and how to go about practicing them, you can start making progress in your UX Journey! Here's a list of other software in case you want to explore more tools which will help you design wireframes:

  1. Balsamiq Wireframes
  2. Figma
  3. Pencil Project
  4. NinjaMock
  5. FluidUI
  6. Mockflow
  7. Cacaoo
  8. Invision
  9. Miro
  10. Justinmind

 

Reminder: Wireframes are stripped of all the advertising and brand-related information. If there's an element without which the wireframe can convey its functionality, then it probably does not belong in the wireframe.

 

The Right Methodology For Designing a Wireframe For UX Design

Just knowing the tools which will help you design wireframes is not enough. You need to be aware of the right methodology if you want to develop suitable wireframes. Like most things, there is a definitive way that will make the process of designing a wireframe easy and smooth. The first thing that you should consider doing is writing about your digital product. This write up will help you achieve clarity before you start sketching. Some of the point that this write up should cover are:

  • What is the objective of the digital product?
  • What kind of content should the display screen be optimized for? (images, text, videos, etc.)
  • Who are the target users? What are their personas?
  • What is the tone of the product?

Let's break down the points mentioned above! It is essential to have a clear objective for the digital product. Having this pinned down from the very beginning will help you set the tone of your product early on. You can achieve better clarity about the objective of the product by inquiring what it should do. Is it being created to deliver real-time information like news, the status of an ongoing project, etc.? Perhaps the product's objective is to track the productivity of all the employees of a company. 

Once you have the objective figured out, you will be able to focus on the kind of content that the product will display. This step is essential because the look and feel of your wireframe rely on it. For instance, if your product is image-oriented, then you would want its functionality to complement the same. If the product is content-oriented, then you will focus on making sure that the written text is legible. 

Finally, you will have to consider the target users and their personas. Not sure what a customer persona is? We are launching a dedicated blog that will educate you about persona mapping. Make sure to watch this space to learn more about it. Here's a visualization for identifying the tone that your wireframe should convey:

With the right tone in mind and some diligent practice, you will be designing high-quality wireframes in no time. Don’t miss out on taking free consultation by emailing your sketches and by DMing me on Instagram, for speedy feedback. Once you have the wireframes sorted out, you will move to the next stage of prototyping. Prototyping, much like wireframes, can be done by using various mockup tools. Our next blog covers everything that you need to know about prototyping! We will announce its launch on our Instagram Handle, so make sure you are following us!

The Proto Process is my initiative to help people have a glorious career in the field of UX. UX Design is a rewarding career opportunity that offers satisfying work. A UX designer can impact businesses and their customers in the most significant way possible. If this is something that interests you and you wish to learn more about it, feel free to get in touch with me! I will be more than happy to help you with your UX journey. Don’t hesitate from adding me on LinkedIn and following The Proto Process! I give daily UX related tips on Instagram and Twitter, making sure you are always learning. 

There’s more! I have recently launched a UX Guide helping new designers get on the fast track of their UX Journey! Make sure to check it out! 

For you to navigate your way through the UX world, The Proto Process provides all the right resources! Join our community to receive invaluable insight from working User Experience Professionals. Get direction on where to put your efforts next, or even work through a problem you’re having with The Proto Process. You can also Book a FREE Consultation Now for a more personalised experience! Furthermore, you can be a part of our digital classrooms. They will enable you to stay relevant in your career and help you grow as a UX Designer. 

The Proto Process: Designing Your UX Career, One Artboard At A Time.

Our industry experts come from renowned design-led companies