A wireframe is just that, a framework for a website - made of wire. Basically, a wireframe is a visualization tool for presenting the content of a web page. Back in the 1800's Webwranglers used wire to do this but since the invention of the computer that technique has dried up - somehow the name has not. The best tool to create a wireframe is adobe illustrator, Indesign or anything that allows you to draw boxes, set type, and move items easily.
Wireframes are effective because they:
- Require minimal time to plan content placement.
- Make changes to the sites content painless.
- Focus on how a site actually works without distractions caused by colors, photography, or design.
Wireframes make the production of a site more efficient but the most significant advantage by far is their ability to present a page devoid of all distractions. For whatever reason colors, imagery and even words tend to take over a persons emotional side, which then causes them to overlook the more analytical aspects of development. Imagine presenting a comp with an 800 x 300 pixel enlarged bikini model in the header, do you think anyones going to consider what items are most important to include in the footer? I dont think so.
So strip it down to black and white use greek text instead of real words, and get that wireframe signed off on so the designers can get to work.