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Wireframing: Yes, You Can! (And Should)

5 Oct

The Blueprint for Web Success

designer drawing website development wireframe

bradley1

Guest Contributor:
Bradley Williamson, Interactive Developer

In putting together a new website or app, there are many business decisions to be made along the way. Sometimes businesses are tempted by change for the sake of change, adding in tech just because it’s cool, or a “modern” design just because it’s trendy.

But if your website is neither functional nor user-friendly, it’s not going to increase sales, traffic, or conversions. Though there is a time and a place for focusing on fanciful designs and flashing animations, the heart and soul of your web user experience is what matters, and wireframing can begin to solidify that. Build from a blueprint using these tips, and your website will be fleshed out with purposeful simplicity.

Wireframing 101

A wireframe is a basic, visual concept of a user interface that defines key user goals and content hierarchy. Often, they’re unrefined sketches or concepts made on grid paper, whiteboards, desktop programs, and other web-based tools. There is no perfect way to perform this vital step.

Wireframes are done with “block diagrams” to house content.

Wireframes are done with “block diagrams” to house content.

 

Acting as a “blueprint,” wireframes serve as the bones of your design and development processes. Wireframing should come after discovery and before getting into the nitty-gritty details of design.

Wireframe concepts are meant to be thoughtful, fast and fluid, representing a kind of visual brainstorm for internal and external teams. They enrich the conversation around how users will engage with your interface. Wireframes help answer those brewing questions of functionality by taking the abstract ideas from the planning phase and arranging them meaningfully.

Talking with a “Wiry” Voice

Wireframes are often developed in black and white; it’s not the time for discussing color palettes, font choices, imagery, and even branding. The discussion around wires includes:
Content: deciding what should and shouldn’t be displayed
Information hierarchy: arranging that content meaningfully
Functionality: investigating potential action-oriented components
Structure: interconnecting all parts to work seamlessly together
Behavior: evaluating how the user is impacted in their product experience

Wireframing is a time-saver in the long-term, keeping usability headaches or graphical head-scratchers down the road at bay. In other words, you’ll know very early what’s going on your B2B site, where it’s going, and why it’s important. By taking the time to work through wireframes, it’s much easier to throw out large blocks of content and alter key sections, instead of having to change the design concept down the road.

Wiring in the Right People

User interface and user experience designers or information architects are primarily responsible for the creation of wireframes by balancing the larger goals against the user’s needs. During this time, wireframing can inspire the creative and development processes. Developers and designers will use the wires to reduce the learning curve around site implementations and enhancements. Internal project managers assess the wires to ensure the process is within scope and strategy.

Down to the Wire: Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever jumped into a website and realized it was challenging to navigate, or been part of a website development project that went awry, a wireframe should become your new best friend. The process of wireframing a website is a tried and true method to help tackle the challenges for your B2B website.

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The Agency Meet Market

22 Sep

Get to Know Your Creatives

light bulbs

 

hillman Guest Contributor: 
Matt Hillman, Creative Director

When you think about your agency relationship, it’s likely your account exec is who comes to mind—and rightfully so. Day in and day out that’s who services your business; it’s who you call when you have a need, an issue or a compliment. They solve your problems. For many companies, the account service person is the agency.

But behind your normal point of contact lies an arsenal of agency talent you may rarely meet. Sure, they’re a name you hear, an addressee on an email, a hand you shake during an agency tour, but their contributions may be hidden behind phrases like “the team” or “work their magic” or “back at the shop,” and as a result, you don’t actually know what they do for you.

So here’s a primer on the core roles of the creative department and what they bring to the table for you and your business:

Message – Knowing what to say, how to say it, and to whom is the function of the copywriter. These are people who use words much like a chef uses ingredients—continually sniffing out the right one, routinely trying new combinations, and never resting until the flavor is just right. Most have trained in English, journalism or communications and language is their hobby. With a sometimes fanatical appreciation for nuance, changing a word is no small matter. Trust them to understand your audience and what motivates them to notice, to care, and to buy.

Design – Regardless of the title—graphic designer or art director—those who compose visuals are all artists at heart. They are deliberate with the interplay of space, form, and color, using the elements to create visual messages. Behind the sometimes eccentric veneer is someone who has studied serious concepts like alignment, proximity, repetition, and white space. While they may style themselves strangely, their designs always value order and are thoughtful and measured. Trust them to understand the latest trends and how the eye moves through a layout.

Direction – Beyond simply making sure that message and design are working in tandem, the creative director is ultimately responsible for the vision that the writer and designer deliver to. Relying on inputs from the client (via account service) and the creative brief, the creative director is like a conductor of an orchestra; they ensure that all the musicians work in harmony. They interpret, shift, and adjust individual elements to delight (and sometimes surprise!) the audience. Trust them to contextualize every project from a higher “campaign” perspective to build the brand.

When working as they should, these three creative roles produce magic. Every brand campaign, print ad, 30-second spot, billboard or promotion you remember…all of them came from this triad of talent working together to deliver for their clients.

Sure, creative types are “different.” But that’s exactly what you want. They don’t see the world like most people, don’t arrive at the same conclusions, and rarely enjoy being on the bandwagon—and it’s a good thing they don’t. Because getting noticed and getting sales requires standing out, and that’s what your creative team lives for.

 

[ref]

links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewhillman

https://www.aaaa.org/home-page/agency-stuff/human-resources/agency-job-descriptions/

http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles

http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-7-characteristics-of-highly-creative-people.html

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