NJI Media logo on wall

Evaluating a Wireframe (for Non-Designers!)

August 21, 2013

wireframes

Website design has a secret – it’s part art, but also part science. Shapes, patterns and colors are important to a designer, but so are layouts, hierarchies and organization. It’s not always intuitive, which is why it can feel overwhelming to create a new website design from the ground up.

Take, for instance, one of the earliest steps in the process, making a wireframe. This visual guide is a no-frills blueprint of every major page on a website or mobile app. Design, color schemes, typography, copy, all of that comes later.

Pumped to evaluate your first wireframe? Here are some handy tips:

Think of it as an Outline for a Paper

If you’ve written a big essay, report or memo, you know that an outline can give you a good sense of what’s important and what’s not. A wireframe is essentially an outline for a website, meaning that people should be able to look at the wireframe and immediately know where the important information is, even if the details haven’t been added. If the main information isn’t easy to find, it’s time to redo the layout of the page.

Pay Attention to the First Place You Look

First impressions are important. Once visitors load a webpage, they can evaluate the quality of the website in as little as ten seconds. That gives your site very little time to make an impact, so you better make sure your important information is front and center. If it takes more than a few seconds to find the latest headline or learn about the organization, go back to the drawing board.

Ignore Design. Really.

This is easier said than done. Wireframes are barebones documents, which means no color schemes, no specialized typography, no pictures, nothing. Don’t let this distract you. Remember, an outline for a paper doesn’t have appendices or footnotes because the goal is to emphasize the main points and establish an overall structure for the final product. Similarly, a wireframe just shows the hierarchy of information, and all the other details will come later.

With these tips in mind, there’s no need to fear wireframes. You’ll get better with practice, and in the meantime, don’t forget to check out a lot of other useful creative advice in our blog.

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Our address may be difficult to remember, but our door isn’t

The finishing touch on our new headquarters has been completed. Despite its unceremonious installation, we feel that it will likely go down in history as an iconic symbol. Similar to that of Number 10 Downing Street or the portal to Narnia, the NJI Media, 101 & 1/2 South Union St. “Blue Door” is unmatched… at least in Alexandria, Virginia. The door has been painted in Pantone Process Blue specially formulated for NJI Media. Come check out the door in person.  We love having friends over for breakfast, lunch, snack time, cocktails and after hours parties.

September 12, 2013