What Are High-Fidelity Wireframes?

What Are High-Fidelity Wireframes?
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High-fidelity wireframes that begin to show how the product will look and behave once it’s developed. 

They are an evolution of low-fidelity wireframes, which purposely avoided using images, colors, etc., in order to focus feedback on the structure and elements of the screens. With the layout and hierarchy of the product established, hi-fidelity wireframes (also called hi-fi wires) are created in order to refine toward a more realistic view of the final product.

How detailed are high-fidelity wireframes?

High-fidelity wireframes are highly detailed.

Hi-fi wires add graphics, spacing, and colors (i.e., branding colors) in a way that better represents the final product. These are a more detailed and realistic view of the design concept than is shown in lo-fi wires and include the use of real data rather than the “lorem ipsum” placeholders. 

However, as with lo-fi wires, hi-fi wires are not connected to a live database on the back end; rather, actual data is used in the wireframe designs so that the team can have a visual representation of what a full product would look like.

Using actual data also helps designers refine the elements. For example, a designer will learn that the text length of a field is much longer than expected and therefore will adjust the design accordingly.


Detail matters in high-fidelity wireframes

While lo-fi wires tend to require multiple iterations but with shorter design intervals between feedback cycles, the design work of hi-fi wires is more precise and therefore more time-consuming. 

The purpose of hi-fi wires is refinement: adjusting in detail the graphics, and spacing to ensure all the design elements work together and create a usable and pleasing layout.

When working on hi-fi wires, you want to be precise (e.g., What is the actual size of the image displayed here? Does everything fall within the grid? Is there enough whitespace between these elements?).

Just as with lo-fi wires, hi-fi wires go through iterations and incorporate feedback from the team. However the focus is not so much on the layout and structure but rather on the data or page copy being displayed, screen interactions, and the flow between the screens. 

High-fidelity wireframes are much more precise and detailed in interactions (i.e., how the screen will look and how they will behave) because they are used to show both the look of the final product and how the user will experience it, all before anything is developed. 


High-fidelity wireframes inform development planning

We use hi-fi wireframes to communicate design decisions to the development team before coding. Since these wires show a more precise view of the final product, using actual data and page copy for each screen, final dimensions of any images, and branding elements such as colors, typography, and logo, the development team can better inform us on the level of effort required for each screen to be developed.

Since hi-fi wires are such a highly articulated design and visual representation of the final product, they can also be used to garner feedback from the end users. I discuss this in more detail in my next post: Prototypes.

Alice Toth

Alice Toth

Principal Designer

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