The use of wireframing in interface design has become an increasingly popular method for laying the foundation of websites. A wireframe is a basic visual guide that serves as a flexible framework of a website and the relationship between its pages. Wireframes can be as simple as paper sketches or they can be more complex and appear as coded HTML prototypes. Since the method is popular and seems to be here to stay, this article will look at a few examples of how the technique may evolve over the next few years.
Functional to visual and beyond
Wireframes are characterized by functionality, but initially they were only functional and without images. In recent years that functionality has been infused with a visual element—as designers realized that lists of functional elements describing how a website would be built were long, difficult to conceptualize, and above all boring, they began to make wireframes a more visual experience, with the functional aspect playing second fiddle. Now, wireframes are usually sketches of the website, with the functional elements blended into the image. These days, most web designers use coded HTML wireframes to produce visual prototypes of their websites. They may code the HTML themselves or use software that does the job for them. Either way, this evolution of wireframes from solely functional to visual with a side of functional has been a success because it has made usability testing easier, supplying designers with valuable user experience feedback and creating a development process characterized by expedience. In the future, software programs dedicated solely to wireframing HTML services will likely be the way to go because of their convenience. HTML coding is not necessarily an easy skill to learn, and if there is a software program that can do the work for the designer, the entire development process is better facilitated. Programs like Pidoco and iRise provide these services, and in the future there will undoubtedly be many more, leading to higher competition and a boost in creativity and innovation.
While wireframing is a broad term for a very diverse method, it is likely that in the future there will be distinct schools of wireframing that will create their own specific methodology for the process. A good example of this is the recently introduced Niehaus wireframing method. Niehaus wireframes are meant to focus the attention of the designer on the most essential elements of the user interface design. This is done by creating wireframes that follow a color coding or “shading” scheme based on the importance of elements within the prototype and by limiting the space allocated to UI elements of a certain level of relevance. The Niehaus wireframing method is just one example of a wireframing method created for a specific purpose, but as the needs of users increase and become more and more complex, wireframing will need to offer designers the option of solving specific problems through the use of a specific methodology.
Opportunities are endless
Although technology permeates nearly every aspect of modern life, it is still new to the landscape of human discovery. Collaborative software user interaface design is relatively uncharted territory, so as we progress into the next decade there is great potential for advancement on the part of web developers. Building a website means creating a seamless user experience between the look, content, and know-how of a user interface design. Wireframes help designers understand how a user navigates their site and builds a model for this interaction based on user experience feedback. The more we depend on websites to run our lives, the more we will depend on both visual and methodological wireframing innovation in order to maximize the process’ potentiality.
About the Author:
Pidoco.com – Interface Design, Wireframe, Wireframe Software, Interface Design Software, Wireframe Tool, Interface Prototyping, Clickable Wireframes, Usability Testing and Digital Paper Prototyping. User centered design for improved user interface design.
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