Wireflows: Wireframe flow visualization for apps and webpages

Wireflows: Wireframe flow visualization for apps and webpages

Within the design world, the use of wireframes is commonplace for both app design and web design. Although wireframing has, historically, largely been the job of design teams, collaborative tools such as Uizard have allowed multiple stakeholders to get involved in the wireframing process, which has, in turn, allowed teams to share ideas more easily, feedback more responsively, and make it easier to demonstrate the intent and goals of a project.

In many cases, however, it can be difficult to fully convey the necessary technical interactions between elements of a wireframe, or adequately demonstrate what the user journey might look like in the finished version of the design, leading to issues further down the design funnel; the last thing you need in early-stage design is ambiguity around what the core goals of the design project are.

Over the last decade or so, this issue has been tackled by the rise of wireflows, a visual way to demonstrate the structure of an app or webpage design, combined with a visual representation of how these pages are intended to interact. Wireflows bridge the gap between wireframe and design interactivity and act almost like non-functional prototypes. This allows those involved in the design process to accurately demonstrate intent early in the design funnel, removing time-sapping ambiguity later down the line.

So, what is a wireflow?

Wireflows defined: Wireflows are a combination of wireframes and the visual elements of a flow chart. As well as demonstrating the layout, structure, and core elements of the screens within a design, wireflows also demonstrate how each of the screens within a project interact with each other, and the intended user flow through the app or web design.

The term wireflow is a combination of the term wireframe and the term flow chart. A wireframe is a schematic or blueprint of an app or web page, or a set of pages, that conveys the structure, layout, and placement of content. Wireframing sits early in the design funnel and is very much the first step in idea visualization (i.e., your wireframe will be the first thing you create to demonstrate what your design will actually include and why).

A flow chart within the context of design is used to describe both user flow as well as how design elements interact with the other. A wireflow is therefore a combination of both the visual elements of a wireframe and the demonstrative power of a flow chart. A wireflow allows the designer to demonstrate multiple user journeys within a single design, to easily convey the full purpose of the project.

wireflow examples
Example of a wireflow for a mobile app design

How to make a UX wireflow

The great thing about wireframing is that anyone can do it, regardless of design experience or access to wireframing software. Wireframes can be doodled on a piece of paper, sketched on to a whiteboard, or even drawn in the sand with a spade. With the power of Uizard’s Design Assistant, you can even transform sketches into digital wireframes with the click of a button.

Typically, to create a wireflow, you would create your wireframe designs and then add flowchart elements between the various pages or screens of your app or web design to demonstrate both interactions and user flow. Again, how you achieve this will depend on your level of design experience.

Sketch to wireframe with Uizard's Design Assistant

The issue with wireflows

Wireflows are incredibly useful for demonstrating the structure of a web or app design, as well as how the pages and elements of a design are intended to interact with each other, thereby demonstrating the user experience/user journey. However, wireflows do have their limitations. Despite being used to reduce ambiguity, issues around clarity of intent within wireflows still persists, especially when teams and stakeholders are not working collaboratively during the entire design process.

If working asynchronously, it is easy for the message of a wireflow to become confused or misinterpreted, especially if you are attempting to demonstrate multiple UX facets or user journeys at once. This issue can be compounded if there is project handoff to different stakeholders between the different stages of the design funnel.

It is also extremely difficult to accurately convey complex, multiscreen app or web designs with a wireflow alone. If your design has multiple pages with layered interactions, you'll more than likely find that your design resembles a plate of spaghetti by the time you've mapped everything out.

There is, however, a solution to these issues. Wireflows are designed to document interactions within a design, but it is much more practical to demonstrate this within the context of a low-fidelity prototype, where interactions are functional and easily editable, and can be layered to accommodate multiple user journeys across various page types.

Wireflow vs. low fidelity prototype

If a wireflow uses static descriptors to demonstrate interactions between wireframe screens or pages, a low-fidelity prototype actually shows these interactions in action through clickable links within the design. Historically, prototyping comes significantly later down the design funnel, usually in the form of high-fidelity prototyping (i.e., the wireframe has been signed off, mockups with visual assets have been created, and a prototype has been built to demonstrate something close to the finished product).

However, as design needs have changed, so too has design technology. Collaborative wireframing tools such as Uizard allow you to upload your hand-drawn wireframes, create brand-new digital wireframes in seconds, and build tangible interactions between screens or pages instantly, removing any ambiguity and removing the need to wait till endgame prototyping to accurately demonstrate UX, user journey, and the intent behind design elements.

Essentially, you can go from a sketch of a wireframe to a multi-screen digital wireframe with functioning interactions and user flows in minutes, and then share this with other stakeholders for further collaboration and feedback.

low fidelity prototype wireflow example
A low fidelity prototype made in minutes with Uizard

Wireflows and low-fidelity prototypes with Uizard

To get started with Uizard, simply sign up to the Uizard app for free and get designing. You can upload your hand-drawn wireframes with Uizard’s Design Assistant, or you can start from scratch within the app itself. We even have wireframe design templates to help you get up and running as quickly as possible!

Once your wireframes are built out, you can then effortlessly add your interactions and user flow markup to turn your app or web design into a functioning, low-fidelity prototype. With Uizard’s smart sharing features, you can add multiple team members or stakeholders to your project and collaborate instantly in real-time, further removing any ambiguity from the ideation process. Building out your app or web page has never been easier.

Want to find out more about the world of wireframes? Our wireframing guides have everything you could possibly need to know. Looking for something else, head over to the Uizard blog and discover our Uizarding world.