Wireframing is all about the "what" -- the execution and process of the site. It has nothing to do with the "how" -- including the innovations of technology and design. It will keep your site focused on what it needs to do to maximize conversion rates.
In a recent article, "Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Web Site," I discussed the importance of storyboarding your Web site. Storyboarding is the process of creating drafts of your Web pages and laying them out in logical sequence to create a map of your finished Web site. That map then serves to guide your designers, copywriters, and programmers.
In that article, I promised you that I would also write about "wireframing," which is actually the parent process to storyboarding. Unfortunately, many people (including lots of developers) confuse storyboarding with wireframing, or they believe that because they are storyboarding they have already done a wireframe. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Wireframing involves making a skeleton of your Web site that focuses only on what you want the site to do in response to each user click, not on how that gets done:
One of the most important benefits of wireframing is that it happens on the fly as we work with a client in the early discovery stage of the project (sometimes even during the first meeting). Wireframing helps you to conceptualize what your site needs to do and how the customer experience should be built. With the HTML wireframe approach, you are actually interacting with a functioning model of your Web site almost from the beginning and long before a single question of design or copy or even color gets addressed. You can click on links and see where they go. You can begin to "feel" what it will be like to use your site rather than just see it. Ultimately, it is all about the words of wisdom from Nordstrom's CEO, Dan Nordstrom, "You don't get paid for innovation... You get paid for execution."
Wireframing is all about the execution and process of the site and has nothing to do with innovations of technology or design: Will you keep your site focused on what it needs to do to maximize your conversions, or will you let bleeding-edge technology and design drain your cash flow and actually cost you customers?
Once the client approves the wireframe, we get to work on the copywriting. This is one of the most important aspects in persuasion -- be sure you have text that sells. Once the content for each page is developed, we begin getting the designers involved to create a graphical user interface (GUI) that works with the content, mood, and feel of the design.
So how can you begin taking advantage of wireframing? Beyond applying the principles above, you should read the wireframing article by Future Now's CTO, John Quarto-vonTivadar. If you are interested in more information about wireframing, email us.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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