Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a shopping list? Or started assembling a piece of furniture without instructions? I think we’ve all been in situations where having a plan would have been helpful.
The same concept applies when developing your website. You need to have a blueprint, if you will, to start with to ensure that your website ends up actually doing what it’s supposed to do. If you are working with developers, you’ll probably start with the scope of work. The developer will then send you mockups to look at which will give you some idea of what your website design will look like. Easy, right?
Danger! Danger Will Robinson! While this is a common way to go about building a website, this process is like preparing an important dinner without the recipe. You’re not going to have much success making beef bourguignon just by looking at a picture of it.
Before you even think about mockups, you need to create a wireframe for your website. A wireframe for each part of your site ensures that it is functional and navigable as well as nice to look at. It outlines to your developers how the site should work and what it should do. Think of it as the instruction manual for your site.
Hold on here, let’s back up a little farther. Before you even create a wireframe, you first need to determine your goals and ask yourself a few key questions, like:
- What do I want my website to accomplish?
- Who is the target audience?
- What will the calls to action be?
- What do I want users to do once they reach my website?
- What are my future plans for the site?
This will help you determine the functionality of your website and ensure that the finished product you end up with is really what you want. Your wireframe is a way to put all of this on paper – it’s essentially a blueprint for your developers. It will outline the layout of each page of the website and include elements like navigation, content, user interface and how everything integrates together. You’ll need to create a wireframe for your home page, the interior page(s), and for any custom components.
If you can determine your website functionality before designing the website, you can avoid the agonizing process of redoing your site over and over because it’s missing crucial elements. These elements can include important tools like content management, E-commerce, databases, social networking platforms, video galleries and a whole lot more.
Want to learn more about website functionality? The team at Sol8 has put together a handy little worksheet that outlines functionality examples – download it for free and get started creating a stellar plan for your website.Image source: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/07/using-wireframes-to-streamline-your-development-process/