That’s why wireframing is still so popular, and designers continue to improve the method. We now have not only better tools but a better understanding of the rapid design prototyping overall, too. As a part of the agile development cycle, UI/UX design process also becomes iterative, and thus gets broken into several degrees of complexity.
Even wireframing is far more advanced today than it used to be. Below, we will review the three main techniques, each of which provide a different level of detail and as a result its own benefits.
When designers want to gather early feedback about user experience and not just the UI look, interactive wireframes come in handy. These are the design deliverables that represent the most basic functions and high-level architecture. You can now create interactive wireframes in hours instead of days, which helps perform user testing quicker and improve the product on the early stages.
This type of wireframing is heavily content-oriented and suits best for websites that require detailed content strategy. Content-heavy projects use this static form as a structure for information architecture development without investing too early into beautiful looks. The interface is important, but if there’s no content to fill it, with or without a nice design such project won’t be successful.
What about the cases when the design process requires an ultra-fast visualization of a certain layout concept? That’s when microframing gets in handy. Microframes are low fidelity wireframes, simplified to a point of minimalistic geometric shapes. This technique is quite straightforward but can amplify all the benefits of wireframing when done correctly.
Now, let’s dive deeper into what microframing is really all about and why it is so useful for rapid product development.
Wireframing VS Micro-wireframing
Microframes is not just a rad name to call lazy, poorly designed wireframes. Microframes are wireframes in miniature, and also require effort to get designed well. However, micro-wireframing is indeed faster and helps streamline the iteration process even more than classic wireframing method.
Microframing resembles sketching a lot, but it is digital, flexible, and allows for instant sharing across the net. It’s the most basic common ground that a designer can establish with the client, on which all of the rest requirements and final design forms can be built upon. This way, you don’t have to invest in design overhead.
This method also easily combines with user journey charts, project roadmaps, and other actionable documentation. Think about microframing as a cheap way to illustrate and improve ideas fast.
Main Microframing Guidelines
Source: UXPin Design Platform
Just as sketching, microframing is very intuitive. In this case, keeping your design thinking ‘inside the box’ actually is something that will help you. Here are the hints to help you stay focused:
- Avoid text: Use blocks to symbolize hierarchy in typography
- Use color to organize elements: Separate CTAs, navigation buttons, links, and content boxes
- Introduce simple icons: Easily distinguish between the elements of the same color (like text box and image)
- Hold off the details: You can add everything else later when the concept starts to take shape.
Design language and microframing
Finally, microframing is not some patented method, so it can be easily enhanced to provide the value you need. A little text description here and there? Adding some flow? There are no hard rules here.
However, as with any wireframing, your design language will inevitably shape the microframes you create. That’s why you need a certain documented convention that will work both for your and the client.
More about rapid product development
Design is only a part of the overall product development process. Learn more about building great products fast, without compromising on quality, to understand the great picture.
This will also help you choose the right level of the wireframing complexity each stage and project requires.