In my office, we had a meeting where the project manager suggested that the wireframes were not the final layout. In theory, while I think this is somewhat true, in that the UI designer might modify the appearance of some elements, in practice I strongly disagree that major layout changes are OK. If there are wireframes, it implies a semi-final layout that takes into account certain functionality. It is generally true that wireframes are reflective of layout, or not?

ETA: Just to clarify, this is specifically in instances where there has been a designated UX portion of the project and wireframes are a key deliverable, and presented to a client, as opposed to wireframes that are created for the sake of brainstorming or "putting an idea down on paper" that the client does not see.

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    Voting to close this a opinion based as it usually is. The definition of a wireframe can vary wildly from team to team, project to project, firm to firm, client to client. Sometimes they are literally napkin sketches and look nothing like the final outcome. Sometimes they are pixel perfect design specifications expected to match the final outcome exactly. It all depends.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 18:50
  • +1 to @DA01's comment. It all depends on your team's definition of wireframe. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 20:04

3 Answers 3


It really depends on how your company is using wireframes and what iteration you are currently on.

In my experience, the final approved version of a wireframe should be a fairly close representation of what the mockups will be delivering. There is still plenty of room to change the layout or functionality before it goes to a prototyping phase, which is why wireframes are ideal for iterations.


Speaking from my own experiences. Obviously it would be ideal for the (last iteration of the) wireframe to be the final layout. But in practice that won't always be the case. The wireframe was laid out the way it was for a reason so you should avoid changing it late in the process, but if you come across a valid reason to make alterations then you should make those alterations.

There's no reason to settle for a less than optimal layout simply because your wireframe didn't include it.


I typically make wireframes as lo-fi as I can get away with, in order to keep clients focused on features, functionality, and hierarchy. I don't lay pages out using a particular grid. Sometimes I'll indicate roughly where the "fold" is, but that's as specific as I'll get.

The Visual Design team then designs the actual layouts using grids and guidelines and pixel-specific sizing.

So, no, in my experience, wireframes do not indicate final layout.

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