How Long Does Wireframing a Design Take?

Before you have a final product of your graphic design project, you are going to want a rough draft, also called a wireframe. A wireframe is basically a loose vision of what the final product is going to look like. But how long does it take to do this?

Depending on how detailed you want your wireframing to be, it can take anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days to fully wireframe a design. This also depends on how skilled and fluent you are in the programs and terminology you are working with.

No matter how long your wireframing takes, you have to ensure you still have enough time to produce wording and explanation for whomever you are presenting or promoting your product to. It’s assumed to be better to leave a few details out of your wireframe to ensure you have plenty of explanation and conversation content. 

Wireframing And What It Takes

There are many different ideas, views, and right ways to complete wireframe.

They usually depend on several different variables ranging from things such as:

  • Why do you need the wireframe?
  • Who’s going to see it?
  • What is the purpose of the wireframe?

Once you fully figure out the answers to that kind of question you can start to figure out how detailed and how long your wireframing will take.

Deciding Fidelity

When you are trying to figure out how you want your design to look at the end of the wireframing process, you have to figure out what the wireframes’ fidelity is going to be. Fidelity is the amount of visual detail that gets added during the framing process.

When trying to figure out and work through the fidelity of your wireframing, you should think about certain things such as:

  • Adding legitimate content to your wireframe
  • End goal button and image placement 
  • Proper dimensions and spacing
  • Legitimate font type and size
  • Color schemes and themes

While all of these things are elements you want on your final product, some people choose to not put them on the wireframe to save time before they can promote or give a presentation on it. This also helps to keep your idea more individual and lowers the risk of someone else taking it from you while you are promoting it.

Level Of Fidelity

Now, deciding on how much or what level of fidelity you need, you have to figure out what environments and groups you are going to be promoting your framing too. 

If you are presenting to a company or organization that likes things polished and basically ready, your wireframing needs to be as detailed as possible whereas if you are presenting to someone who is looking to invest and just wants a rough sketch, you can leave specific details out. 

Questions you need to as yourself when trying to decide on your level of fidelity are:

  • How far are you into the project?
  • What are people expecting to see?
  • How much can you get done?
  • What organizations or companies are going to see this?
  • Do you have any guidelines you are following from anyone?

Now, let’s define different levels of fidelity in wireframing designs below.

Fidelity Levels Defined

While there are ranges in every fidelity level, there is a general expectation within certain fidelity levels of what it needs to contain and what needs to be left out. 

Here are each of them:

  • Low fidelity shows the concept and general placement but no specific details or content
  • Mid fidelity shows the importance of certain elements while including some details and content
  • High fidelity can include larger amount of content and detail with also being legitimate representation of a final product

No matter who you are presenting to, chances are, they have an expectation of what they will learn from your wireframe. You want whoever you are presenting your idea to, to walk away knowing the purpose and the end goal without having to ask too many questions or do too much research on their own. 

Your fidelity level essentially ranges from a general concept of what something could look like, to a flushed-out idea that can be made a reality rather quickly.

Final Thoughts

Wireframing is a great way to promote or present your vision or plan without giving away all of the details and content. This allows you to work at more of a steady pace versus having everything ready every time you have a meeting. 

Wireframing can take a long time if you want to include a lot of detail and fully flush out the project idea, or it can be thrown together rather quickly if you just want someone to have a general idea of what the end goal could look like.