The Importance of a Visual Framework in the UX Process
Translating User Insights into a Product Blueprint
In our previous blog, “UX Research: How Insights Can Help Build a Better Product” we discussed the importance of conducting research to understand the users; their needs, interests, and pain points, and to carve out a great user experience.
The next step in the UX process entails understanding what your users will see, feel, and experience when they use your product. You need to draw a detailed plan to translate your vision into something tangible that others can understand and execute.
And, that is where wireframes come in.
What are Wireframes?
A wireframe is a two-dimensional representation of a digital product that showcases placements of crucial UI elements, the spacing between them, content fields, and overall structure. They are used when preparing intuitive user paths and building the information architecture of a website or app. At this stage, there are no colors, styled typography or graphics. The primary goal is to simply present how the product will work and how information should be presented.
Wireframes are commonly compared to the foundations of a house. If you start putting up the walls without a strong base, eventually everything will fall apart. Similarly, by creating the “skeleton” of your app or website, you are able to consider the habits, behaviors, and desires of the end user which leads you to gain traction in the market.
Once clients are confronted with a concrete form of their vision, their reaction ranges from shock to total satisfaction (usually somewhere in between). And from our point of view, there is no right or wrong response. It is far easier and less costly to address issues in this early phase of the project than later on, or worse, to launch your product knowing it has serious deficiencies.
Almost inevitably, wireframes generate a useful punch list of changes that are routine to make early on. In some cases, a wireframe leads a client to rethink their approach on a more strategic level. Comments we’ve heard over the years include:
- I didn’t realize our product line was this confusing
- We have too many options in our navigation: our key pages are getting lost in the shuffle
- Our call to action is weak
- Our Contact form takes too long to fill out
- Why is there a big box with an x in it? Will it really be just black and white?
- We’re talking too much about ourselves and not enough to our customer
- Our most important product photos are below the fold: nobody’s going to see them
- The design does not elevate our messaging
And, it is these conversations in the wireframing stage of the project which lead to happy resolutions.
A Trusted Partner to Build Your Product
As an innovation delivery agency, we have an obligation to give clients a clear understanding of what is going to be developed, and wireframes, from all the conversations enumerated above, allow us to do exactly that.
We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t create a refined, wireframing process. Our approach is always individual, though, so if you have special requirements, we will find a way to introduce them into the process. Whether you’re about to launch a new product into the market or rebuilding an existing product, we start the production process from scratch, following every step.
One such example is of a billion-dollar waste management company that was finding it increasingly difficult to convert visitors into customers. They came to us for a complete website overhaul. The amount of investment injected into various Pay-Per-Click campaigns did not increase lead generation as the customers didn’t connect with the brand’s story.
Our solution was simple: improve the user-experience and leads will soon follow—and we were right! After numerous client calls and countless internal discussions, we recommended a complete site redesign and development of their website with a focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
After defining the core functionalities that we needed to include in our solution, we went back to the drawing board to create quick, high-fidelity, wireframes. This helped us in defining information hierarchy, plan layouts, map a more efficient navigation flow and create functionality based on how we wanted users to process the information. From better CTA placement, UI improvements, engaging content to deriving and implementing insights from website audit, analytics and SEO analysis, we did a complete site refresh.
Looking at the design in its raw form without colors, logos, and imagery, the client was able to visualize the entire structure of the final design as it helped in minimizing distractions and drew greater focus to usability and functionality of the website. And only when the functionality of our design was approved by the client, we moved on to designing the UI.
Once our work was done, the client was empowered to change their website, preventing it from ever hurting their business down the road. The impact of that change was evident! The redesigned site drastically improved user experience, leading to an increase in user traffic and conversion, and a fall in the bounce rate by 28%. We rebuilt our client’s success by giving their customers exactly what they needed, when they needed it.
How Can We Help You?
M3hive specializes in creating wireframes and prototypes. We want our clients to see what their product will look like (at least roughly), to feel the navigation and to read the content in context. And, investing time and resources in creating good wireframes will go a long way in your UI/UX design process.
Here’s hoping you won’t be skipping getting wireframes made when going for web or app development. Hit us up if you need experienced professionals handling your product.