A “wireframe” is a simple sketch or schematic diagram representing the content and functionality of a single web page. A set of multiple wireframes representing an entire intranet becomes the prototype, or model of the site to come. Since they are quick to create and easy to change, wireframes are an integral part of the web design and development process.
Wireframes help everyone understand what a site needs to look like before a lot of time and effort is expended on actual development. Using wireframes, teams can consider many design options and solve design problems before committing resources to a specific design direction.
The best wireframes are simple sketches. Simple black and white sketches help people stay focused only on navigation, content areas and functionality. Wireframes should not dictate color choices, typography, pictures or other graphic design elements. They simply suggest what should go where.
Before you create a set of wireframes it’s important to have an understanding of your organization’s goals and who the audience is for your intranet. In other words, why are you doing this project?
Analyzing business goals and user needs is a critical first step to creating your intranet strategy. It ensures that time spent on wireframes or any other part of your intranet project will be used most effectively.
What’s the purpose of your intranet? Why do you need it? Do you need to facilitate better internal communications between departments or make documents easier to access by posting them online? What does the site need to do for the business?
Who is your audience? Will anyone care about your new intranet? Who? Knowing who your users are is critical. You could build the greatest intranet in the world, but it won’t matter if no one uses it. Find out who your users are and ask them what they need the site to do.
Once you’ve evaluated your business goals and user needs it’s time to validate them in the field. And that means talking to people before you start making wireframes.
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