Wireframing Essentials

Matthew J. Hamm

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About the web design process. It is tactical; didn’t teach me about how to design, but gave a decent process outline. Probably could have been an article.


User experience design is the act of finding answers to visual and logical questions. The design process defines the order in which the questions need to be asked. Design techniques offer a methodology to answer the questions you are asking

Who is going to use this software or site? What tasks does the user wish to accomplish? What does the maker of the software or site wish to accomplish? (Not always the same as the preceding question) What technology will be used? (Are there any limitations to consider?) Why would the public use your software or site over another? What is the content needed to support the user in accomplishing their goals? If we are redesigning an existing site or application, we will likely find it valuable to seek answers to these additional questions: What existing features or complexities are hampering or otherwise negatively affecting the user experience? What additional features would the user or publisher find helpful in the next version of the product?

Most, if not all of the research, has been completed up front, that is, before the design work begins.

Some companies find it easier to divide the design process by hiring information architects who get the details in place. They then pass their files over to graphic designers who skin the designs by designing the visual layer.

This issue has actually led to a new career path in the software industry called a UX developer. It is for that rare person who has both the ability to code the frontend as well as an eye for design.

In addition to our interview, we will examine similar products that are available in the marketplace. In this case, we comb through similar sporting goods websites and document the features and functionalities they contain. Our objective in obtaining this data is to get a sense of what the current marketplace looks like. If we can define what we have to compete against, then we’ll have a better idea of how to offer a better experience to the customers.

We have defined our personas with the following information: name, photo, a quote that describes their personality, age, location, profession, a brief description of their family life and motivations, how web or tech savvy they are, what their shopping priorities are.

We could create seven uniquely designed pages if we wanted to, but there really is very little value in doing this. Instead, we will attempt to create a single page template that will work for all seven product categories. This should make the website easier to navigate, and easier to build.

You have a lot more flexibility and freedom when designing content-rich pages than when designing a page like the shopping cart. Larger online companies have teams dedicated to getting the checkout process perfect and keeping it that way. The conversion of a shopper to a customer all happens on this page. Abandoned virtual shopping carts are a real problem for e-commerce websites.

Design tenets are a list of the primary design attributes or qualities that are valued by the company or client we are working with. These attributes can describe the quality of interaction, visual style, tone of the text-based content, or even qualities that are a bit more technical in nature. Simply put, they can be anything that we would like to see represented in every interface we create.

Examining similar applications, sites, or products is a reliable way to quickly determine how much work is needed to compete in the existing marketplace. This exercise entails crawling through each product to examine and document the following: Product features of value, each product’s target market, what they do right and where they fail, new ideas and features that will help offer a better experience.

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