The RMS Titanic – King of the sea, the largest ship afloat, a colossal vessel marking a new era in modern maritime transportation. A ship that promised prosperity, comfort, greatness—that sank less than 3 hours after its voyage began, down into the depths of the North Atlantic.
Was it because of that iceberg? Yes, in a way. But experts are saying that the true cause of the tragedy was a very simple design flaw: The center propeller of the ship won’t work in reverse. Therefore, the ship wasn’t able to move away from the iceberg, killing 1,514 people and 8 dogs aboard.
The sinking of “The Unsinkable” is a classic story of how the slightest error during the planning stage of any project can lead to a total disaster. It’s not hard to imagine the magnitude of the crisis you can get into if you disregard the entire process of planning itself. That crucial step of planning and consulting that happens before the implementation stage applies to any design project—especially to website development.
A successful website development project goes through a set of standard operating procedures (SOP). When you work with an expert team, you can expect that this SOP has already been tested, proven and constantly fine-tuned. An intelligent website development SOP will indicate that before the actual site development and design, a wireframe and mockup creation process should first be established and followed.
Ask any seasoned website designer and development team, and they will tell you that the wireframe and the mockup are two of the most important deliverables in a development project. If you need a quality website that addresses your requirements, and if you want to save time and avoid unnecessary costs, then make sure you allocate your resources for these pre-development steps. Skip wireframing and mockups, and you’ll risk wasting time and money. You might be left with an ineffective website—or even end up not finishing the website at all.
Structure your website content and functionality with wireframes
Wireframes are the skeletal system of a website. They’re simple and straightforward representations of how the layout of your site will look like. Each wireframe is a two-dimensional, black-and-white diagram. There are no color palettes, logos, text snippets, or any design or code elements involved. What you see in the wireframe are the bones of your website—the very basic framework of how it will be set up and how it works.
Finalize the form with mockups
While the wireframe basically plans the content of your website, the mockup ties it all together by visualizing its form. Once you get the wireframe finalized, you can now add colors, images, typography and other design elements to it. Dummy text, photos and other polishes are added. You will now have a more or less full visual composition of how the website looks and feels. The wireframe comes to life once it transforms into the mockup.
Even though the mockup is still composed of static and 2D renditions, it will provide you with a more realistic simulation of your website. The series of mockups for your website should showcase the following:
- Color schemes
- Imagery and typography samples
- Realistic assets such as videos, photos and illustrations
- Logo and other visual brand elements
Benefits to website owners
The wireframe and mockup versions that your designer submits to you are not final. In fact, they are an invitation for making changes and tweaks to improve the website to be built. Your designer may get it the first time, or you may have to do a bit of going back and forth to clear things (which, in any book, is way better and less costlier than making modifications only after the website has been coded or developed).
Investing a bit of time and patience into planning using wireframes and mockups before switching to full development gear offers you the following advantages:
- Articulate your vision accurately. Working on the mockup of your website makes sure that your development team fully understands all your requirements.
- Go beyond the conceptual level and see potential weaknesses, gaps and errors at a glance.
- Increase project productivity and efficiency.
- Lessen project expenses and avoid mistakes or last-minute changes which can incur additional costs.
- Pave the way for clearer and faster communication between you and your designer.
- Be at par with the best of the best. Establishing wireframes and mockups is one of the best practices recommended by website development leaders.
- Identify potential for growth and scale.
The deeper purpose of wireframes and mockups
Wireframes and mockups are very effective in demonstrating how your website will “look and feel.” As any good designer knows, design isn’t just about the colors to use or choosing the best looking layout. You make all these decisions on visual elements, placements, functionalities and features because you want to solve a problem.
Good design at its very core is all about presenting a solution. And in your case, you’re looking for the best solutions that will allow your website to deliver the best user interface and user experience.
You can do just that with good design—and it all starts with your wireframes and mockups that reveal to you how each user will most likely explore your site, interact with your page elements, and consume your content.
Sink or swim?
Invest in proper planning, or risk turning your website into the next cyber-Titanic, and see thousands of visitors drift away.