What’s the Point of a Wireframe? Just Gimme the Design

Your company is in the early stages of a website overhaul. Your team has spent weeks evaluating your current site and dissecting the data to uncover where leads are being lost and how a new site design could improve conversions.

It’s time to get started on the new design, but your website developer is pushing to create a wireframe first. Your first thought was, “What’s a wireframe?” and your second was, “That sounds like a waste of time!” Every minute you spend on the redesign represents lost revenue as far as you’re concerned. Why should you slow down the process with an unnecessary wireframe?

Building your new site sooner rather than later is a priority, but wireframing is an important step in the process that shouldn’t be skipped. A wireframe is essential if you want a website that outshines your competitors’ sites and brings a strong ROI.

What’s a Wireframe? Why Bother?

A wireframe is a basic blueprint for your website. It shows you where important elements like informational copy, logos, call-to-action buttons, and lead generation forms will appear on your site before any design elements have been added to the mix.

It may sound basic to map out your site in such simple terms, but a wireframe can be the step that saves your new site design from disaster. Just like a house built without a blueprint is bound to have unforeseen problems, a website built without a wireframe won’t live up to its potential.

Not convinced? Check out the reasons why a wireframe is essential to your new website’s ROI.

A wireframe helps avoid costly mistakes

You’d never dream of starting a new company without a solid business plan in place, right? A wireframe is the equivalent of the master plan for your website. Without it, you could run into costly mistakes caused by miscommunication or failing to define your site’s goals.

There will always be a cost to fixing errors, but that cost increases dramatically as a project moves toward completion. “Once a piece of software makes it into the field, the cost of fixing an error can be 100 times as high as it would have been during the development stage,” reports IEEE. What if your team chooses to leave the site as is until you get around to making other improvements? The State of Growth-Driven Design 2017 report states 42 percent of marketers make impactful improvements to their websites just once per year or less, meaning those mistakes will decrease your website’s value for a long time.

Creating a wireframe at the beginning of your project reduces the chances that mistakes like these slip through the cracks. With a plan in place, you’ll be able to address potential problems before they become more costly to fix.

A wireframe boosts conversion rate

Basic visitor behavior can be easily forgotten when you’re faced with a full design, including logos, colors, and images that all need tweaking. If you’re too busy arguing over fonts, you might not realize that your website design is violating basic principles of user experience (UX).

Wireframes are all about user experience, which can have a big impact on the ROI of your website. A Forrester Research report found that a better UX design could result in a 400 percent increase in conversion rate. Likewise, a survey by Nielsen Norman Group found that spending 10 percent of your project development budget on usability should increase your conversion rate by 83 percent. Clearly user experience is worth your attention.

Taking the time to wireframe allows you to focus on site elements and user experience without getting distracted by the overall design. This step is your opportunity to ensure that your design offers a satisfying experience for visitors. It may be time consuming, but the ROI will be worth it.

A wireframe highlights potential SEO conflicts

Websites aren’t just about good design. If your site isn’t optimized, it won’t be rewarded with high rankings in search engines, and it will be that much harder to attract and engage potential clients. Unfortunately, web design and SEO best practices are often at odds with each other.

Designers aren’t SEO experts; it’s not their job to understand how site architecture can influence SEO and user experience. By starting with a wireframe, you’re creating a collaboration between your team members and your site designer. “For SEOs, wireframing can help you plan optimized on-page elements as well as opportunities for generating leads, conversions, and interlinking. Wireframing can even help you prepare your keyword analysis for each page,” according to Moz.

Without a wireframe, conflicts between design and SEO won’t be noticeable until late in the design phase, making it costly and time-consuming to change direction or optimize the site retroactively. A wireframe can save your website’s ROI by avoiding conflicts early in the project.

A wireframe streamlines production

It may feel like wireframing gets your website redesign off to a slow start, but the time it saves makes it a valuable process for streamlining production. For example, website development can be stalled by disagreements over your site’s direction and errors that arise late in the design process. By preventing errors and ensuring everyone is on the same page, wireframing can make the whole project run more smoothly.

Nailing the skeleton of the website is pivotal in efficient design,” according to the Growth-Driven Design Institute. It estimates that traditional web design projects take an average of 108 days to complete and launch two weeks behind schedule. Your website can’t achieve that high conversion rate unless it’s actually live, so falling behind schedule can directly impact revenue.

Using a wireframe to speed up the design process can get your website up and running sooner, meaning more opportunities for your site to increase conversions and bring in new leads sooner.

Wireframes: Your Key To a Smooth Website Redesign

Now you can take the answer to “What’s a wireframe?” back to your team and start building momentum for this essential step in the redesign process. You’ll be thankful for wireframing when you see how it streamlines site design, impacts ROI, and increases overall conversion rate.

If you’re still concerned about the ROI of your website redesign, learn more about getting the most bang for your buck in our article “How Much Does a Website Cost? Rethink Your Budget with Growth-Driven Design.”