I'm trying to figure out the best way to present my wireframes to the client as I currently produce them at full resolution (960px width) but end up having them span multiple pages when placed into a 8.5x11 document. Additionally, my sitemaps end up feeling really cramped at 8.5x11.

I'm get a lot of resistance when I suggest moving to tabloid (11x17) as we don't have a printer that can print documents that large.

I love konigi.com's template but I'm afraid I can't use that as it's too large. Any advice on this one as far as reducing the size of my wireframes or selling my team on larger documents?

  • Why are you drawing out a sitemap for a wireframe? Are you talking about having a sitemap page? Jul 7, 2011 at 3:56
  • 1
    Charles, when doing IA for smaller sites I'll usually deliver a sitemap that gives an idea of the overall structure to a website and then wireframe the main page templates. I think it helps orient the client as to what pages there will be and explain what the navigation will look like.
    – MSaforrian
    Jul 8, 2011 at 15:36
  • Draw your wireframes on paper to begin with and then you'll never have any size or printing problems. Just copy them when other people need them! :-)
    – Rahul
    Jul 10, 2011 at 17:04

3 Answers 3


It depends on the exact nature of the deliverable.

I'm puzzled that you'd distribute them in paper full stop, actually, unless you've a client who insist that submissions for tender go through a paper process (not that rare in the public sector, actually). But the paper size depends on the exact reading context. Is this one person who's going to be reading this? Or are the paper copies going to be show to a group of people? For the latter, I'd see if I could get a cheap poster print.

Another thing: how detailed are these wireframes? I'm tempted to say that if they're detailed enough to require large sizes for readability, the wireframes could actually be over-specific on minor things (this just distracts stakeholders anyway). Depending on the stage of your project, a wireframe might just need to hint at the workflows rather than exact UI elements. These don't suffer from small printouts so much.

Be aware of print quality, too. White text on high-colour backgrounds is not only toner-heavy, but tends to blur on smudgy printers. Keep contrast high and colour variation low. Again, colour just distracts people unless it actually has semantic value. And a low-colour wireframe could help maintain readability at small sizes.

  • Well we distribute in a format that is printable. The idea is that if someone wants to print them out, they should be able to. Switching to an online comp presentation tool seems like that may sidestep that issue, I'm checking to see if that's an option for us. As to your point about getting too detailed with the wireframes, it's very possible I'm doing that. For this most recent project it's mostly a brochure/content site and less of an application so I've gone into detail about the text layout. But I think that's probably another question :)
    – MSaforrian
    Jul 8, 2011 at 15:50

I'll echo jbreckmckye's suggestion that the wireframes be shown in a browser at 100% scale on a monitor with a display resolution as close to your audience's as you can get it. Inevitably, you're going to get questions about the fold and it's much easier to set the expectation right from the start.

Also, when you print a wireframe, the scale is often misleading because there is nothing to reference the size of elements against. I've had a client refer to a version of the a PDF wireframe they printed while the site was being built, "I thought it would be bigger/smaller."

If you absolutely must print it, (and my clients do sometimes print them on their own despite my best efforts) include browser chrome in the wireframe. It's not the best solution, but if you have to scale it up and down, at least there are the browser chrome elements to reference for scale.

In OmniGraffle, I'll use the print setup dialog to scale entire 960px wide document down by 60% or so to print it on 8.5 x 11.

  • This is good feedback, the printing comes in as an outlier use case. We always deliver the document as a PDF but people I work with feel that there should be the ability to print the documents out if so desired. It would seem that posting them online sidesteps the issue entirely.
    – MSaforrian
    Jul 8, 2011 at 15:38

I create my wireframes approximately actual size for a 1024x768 21inch screen, which fortunately closely matches the A3 format here in NZ (a bit smaller than Tabloid).

I send these to clients as a PDF, which they can then view on screen at almost actual size. If printing I shrink them down to A4 (similar to 8.5x11) - which is still readable.

  • Do you put notes on your wireframes? If so where do you put them?
    – MSaforrian
    Jul 8, 2011 at 15:49

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