The Wireframe Process and Subscription Websites

Helpful tips on creating a website prototype before the actual building process begins

Before designing a website, it’s important to map out what the website will look like. If you don’t do this, the process will be virtually impossible to do correctly. We refer to this process as creating a website wireframe.

According to Wikipedia, a wireframe is “a basic visual guide used in interface design to suggest the structure of a website and relationships between its pages.” Wireframes help designers maintain a consistency between pages throughout a website. The importance of wireframing lies in creating user expectations, developing a familiarity with the site and within the communication process between content creators, engineers, developers and clients.

Wireframes can range from simple paper prototypes to elaborate structural drawings that are created with specific software. Either method can be used, depending on your familiarity with software and the complexity behind the website. As an example, Phil Ash, the publisher of and, and one of the speakers involved in our upcoming Building Subscription Websites webinar, uses Excel to create his wireframe projects.

Speaking of Phil Ash, his familiarity with website wireframes has allowed him and his team to be able to rollout a brand new website every three weeks if desired. If you become extremely knowledgeable with website wireframes, a similar goal can be achieved.

Running the wireframe process

Even though designers and engineers will be ultimately creating the website, the wireframe prototype should be created by an employee on the business side of the company. This way, features and functionalities do not stray from what is expected.

In the wireframe process, each type of employee should follow specific requirements to ensure success in the timeliest manner.

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Employee roles

For publishers and managers they should: 1. Empower a leader so there is one decision maker, 2. Prioritize with that individual, and 3. Assemble all pieces before the site build begins.

For IT professionals, they should be instructed to: 1. Go simple with the design, 2. Hire proficient people who wish to pursue the business model rather than build a portfolio, and 3. Stick to design templates and have the designers do the same.

For the marketing and editorial staff they should: 1. Be expected to justify any and all “bells and whistles” associated with the project, 2. Be given simple tools to modify the site going forward, and 3. Base the marketing strategy on an effective model already in place.

Wireframe and subscription websites

The wireframe process is especially important when it comes to subscription websites because the usability behind a subscription website defines the success of it. If your website isn’t designed correctly and users cannot receive the expected experience, then the overall goal of getting and retaining subscriptions will not be met.

All websites benefit from having a plan and creating a visual idea will help the entire team get the bigger picture. For more on building subscription websites, and to learn how a successful publisher has devised a strategy that involves the ability to rollout a new subscription website in only 3 weeks, join Don Nicholas and Phil Ash for their Building Subscription Websites webinar on October 12th.


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