Annotated Wireframes

What are wireframe annotations?

Annotations are comments or notes of explanation. Wireframe annotations add context around design elements, functionality, user flow, rationale, and more.

What are annotated wireframes and why are they important?

First, let’s quickly review what wireframes are. Wireframes are 2D, grayscale designs that serve as a blueprint of a website or application. They outline the user journey and highlight content hierarchy, possible features, design elements, calls-to-action, and site navigation.

Since there are typically many collaborators on website or product wireframes, clear communication is critical to ensure all members of the team are aligned on the intended design and functionality. But the necessity of clear communication extends beyond the internal team to external stakeholders as well. They must be able to quickly understand the wireframes and visualize how the wireframes will translate into the end result.

Annotating wireframes is an efficient and effective way to add context and clarity to wireframes. Notes around user flow, functionality, and the purpose of certain design elements help collaborators and stakeholders understand the wireframes more comprehensively. This clear understanding also enables people to provide constructive feedback to improve the wireframes.

Wireframe annotations mitigate the risk of a team member misinterpreting the intent of design elements, proposed functionality, or the general user flow. Any oversight or malalignment on wireframes has the potential to cause problems later on in design or development.

Annotated wireframes are also helpful for stakeholders or project team members who may be less technically inclined and not familiar with how functionality is commonly represented in wireframes.

What and when to annotate?

Although wireframes are a blueprint and not a final design, they are still thoughtful and detailed. It’s not necessary to annotate every single design element or functionality, but you should highlight the most important items – especially those items that may require discussion and debate. Elements commonly annotated include but are not limited to: