Wireframes + Design or Just Design. What is the Best?

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away the term “design” meant visual design and nothing more. However, in the modern world of mobile devices and glowing screens attached to people’s palms, this term keeps growing: VisD, UI, UX, just design… When it comes to creating a website, one may be confused with all these definitions out there. So if you are feeling a bit lost, we are here to help you up. Today, we will talk about wireframes vs design. Which solution is the best? But before we get started, let us provide a couple of definitions to make things clear.

Wireframes

A wireframe is a low-fidelity blueprint representing what goes where, without the web design agency having to spend time on the details. Wireframes are usually presented with placeholders and  gray boxes for content; designers fill them in at a later stage of the process.

You can think of wireframes as models for sites, which can be either clicable, or static. They are all about functionality. Actually, a wireframe is a sketch demonstrating what elements could be added/deleted to/from your future website. For instance, a wireframe of a site will show you the placing of different elements, columns, main buttons, navigation. That is why wireframes are perfect for creating UX design.

Design

Design is, at its heart, a combination of visual communication and problem-solving. Designers use typography, imagery, and color to deliver a feeling or idea through visual elements. That is why it is crucial to understand that design is more about “polishing” a future website, without getting too caught up in what is going on with functionality. At this stage, the customers become aware of more than just gray boxes and blank placeholders. Design comes with buttons, images, color, and other specific considerations.

How is a Wireframe Different than Design?

Any wireframe is built with UX in mind. While any design is built with creativity and marketing in mind. Of course, still keeping in mind the customer’s goals and needs. Let us provide an example. Say, we are designing an app for hikers with checkpoints and trail information to add more interactive experience to a hike. If you need to build UX for this app, you definitely should create a wireframe taking into account what exactly the users expect from it (it should be easy to see the screen in direct sunlight, and easy accessible from any type of device). These facts will affect the final design. In this case, you will definitely need to create a wireframe first to see if its meets all requirements.

However, if you already have a ready-made mockup, which was designed with all this information in mind, you do not need a wireframe. Just design is enough. In this case, the layout, color, spacing, and typography would all be on the forefront of your mind.

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Wireframes + Design or Just Design?

  • If you need to build simple UX design, you will not need wireframes. It is easier and relatively cheaper solution.
  • In case with for example ecommerce marketplaces (where UX plays a crucial role), it is essential to design wireframes.
  • Creating a wireframe + design can be a little more costly; however, it will save your time in the long run. But in this case, you will have insurance of risks associated with UX going wrong so you’ll have to remake only wireframes again.
  • Just design is perfect if a customer comes up with a ready-made sketch or mockup. Especially, if all you need is to create simple pages such as “about us,” “testimonials,” “contact us,” etc.
  • Depending on the customer’s requirements we can create either static, or clickable wireframes (using Axure). Please note that clickable ones are more complex and require more time.

So if you need to create a simple website, just design is the best option for you. But for complex projects (mobile apps or luxury websites) wireframes are essential. In any case, the final decision is up to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you any advice of professional help in creating a wireframe, design, or both.