The practice of mobile app wireframes came from web development. Because of the benefits it provides, it is firmly entrenched in app development. But before we talk about how to wireframe an app, let's first find out what mobile app wireframing is.
Mobile app wireframing is creation of a page schematics that demonstrates how the user will experience the product being developed.
It is needed to understand the structure of the application interface and which blocks will be on the screen. A wireframe for a mobile app can be a low-detail or a high-detail schematic representation of the interface elements.
In this article, we’ll cover how to build a wireframe and why is it important.
Sketch vs Wireframe vs Mockup vs Prototype: What is the Difference and When Do You Need Them?
A misconception about Wireframes being the same thing as sketches, mockups, or prototypes is widespread. However, it’s not true. Each notion is different, they serve other objectives and perform different functions. Though they all are the stages of app development for mobile devices and go in the following order:
Let’s figure out what stands behind them.
A sketch is the simplest and basic stage of developing an application interface. Often it is what is said to be "made in haste". Often, a sketch is a handwritten drawing.
A sketch is created when it is necessary to capture an idea that emerged, perhaps during the discussion of a project, as a result of brainstorming, or simply as a result of inspiration.
The mobile app framework is already a more robust and precise illustration of what the interface of a mobile app will look like. A mobile app framework can be developed based on a sketch. In addition to the appearance of the interface, the wireframe demonstrates the structure and functionality of the mobile app.
A mockup is a highly detailed picture that essentially represents the final design, which is agreed upon with the stakeholders. In addition, the purpose of creating mockups is to get close to the final vision of the application, to check the visual details, and to facilitate the implementation of the design in the future.
These three stages of interface development are similar in one way - they are static, i.e. not clickable. An interface becomes clickable when a prototype is developed. A prototype is a clickable layout of an interface that demonstrates the user experience. The prototype helps to test the logic of the application by testing the transition from one screen to another by pressing the buttons on the interface.
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Why Is It Important to Create a Wireframe For an App?
Wireframing brings a number of advantages to the mobile app development process. Let's take a look at the top 3 views on why is it important to build a wireframe.
#1 Wireframes Visualize an App Architecture
The architecture of an application is all the components essential in order for the app to run. Wireframes bridge the gap between the architecture idea in your head and how it will look and be used by real users. Wireframe pulls together mobile app architecture, navigation, page organization, and user movement through conversion funnels, so you can evaluate the user experience before even writing code.
#2 Wireframes Help to Make an App be User-Focused
The idea to build a wireframe is focused as much as possible on the user. It has already been mentioned that the app framework gives a clear idea of how the user will use the app, and defines the context and incentives behind the user's actions. It also reveals the challenges of interacting with the interface. With this understanding, designers can evaluate the effectiveness of user interaction with the interface.
#3 Wireframes Help to Prevent Budget Overruns
Creating wireframes reduces cost overruns by an average of 95%. This is because edits to the interface are made before you start writing code, which takes less time and therefore less money. In the event that it becomes necessary to rewrite the design or code, you will incur a considerable amount of both time and money. In addition, low-fidelity mapping drastically reduces technical debt, one of the most costly long-term killers of a mobile app development project.
One thing is getting clear - wireframes are of high importance. Now, it’s time to talk about how to build a wireframe for an app.
How to Create an Application Wireframe
The development of application wireframes takes place in the first stages of application development. More specifically, after the business analyst collects answers to questions about the project and prepares documentation. Let's see what it takes to create an app wireframe.
Stage 1: Do Your UI/UX Research
Any project in Celadon begins with research. The same practice applies to design development, including wireframes. The designer dives into the essence of the project. At this stage, the following questions must be answered:
- What is the app's target audience?
- What problems do users face and what problems do they expect to solve with your product? Can we define the problem more narrowly?
- How often do they encounter the problem? How intense is the problem?
- Does our MVP development really solve the problem?
- How can your startup solve your target audience's problem?
- What functionality do your customers expect to see in your app?
- What features are needed to satisfy them?
- What should the user journey look like? How can you make it as short as possible?
The main goal of this stage is to get a complete understanding of your users, including their needs, pain points, and behavior. Once you have this understanding, you can move on to the next stage.
Step 2: Plan the User Journey
The user flow journey represents the pages, steps, and actions for a user to perform to accomplish a goal in an application. Laying out the user flow will guide you in identifying how many screens you will need to create, how the user will interact with them, and how they will move from one screen to the next.
In addition, at this stage, some designers may create a spreadsheet that specifies all the interface components resulting from the user flow diagram. This spreadsheet helps prioritize and sequence features, screens, and other content elements and helps ensure no element is missed.
However, some designers may prefer to sketch out the user flow. This is a good practice to visualize the flow on paper and check out how it will look in no time.
Step 3: Create a Wireframe
Finally, we move on to the creating a wireframe for an app. As already mentioned, wireframes are divided into low fidelity and high fidelity.
At the low fidelity stage to create a wireframe for an app, the key goal is to determine the best place for the various components. Based on the concept of visual hierarchy, the designers place the layout of the screens with certain content blocks, for example, they determine what should be in this or that part of the page, in what place on the screen would be best to place this or that type of content.
A visual hierarchy is an arrangement of elements that corresponds to the order in which users process the information on the screen.
Zoning is a great practice to make a wireframe for an app. Because placing everything at once is not efficient and often results in wasted time. It's not uncommon for designers to have to go back into their work and make an adjustment.
Once we have the overall plan, designers move on to high-fidelity wireframes.
High-fidelity wireframes are the final step in creating an application wireframe. The areas marked during the high-fidelity phase are elaborated with buttons, icons, image and video inlays, text bars, spacing, and so on.
Step 4: Test Your App Wireframe
Most likely, the first version will not be the final one, as it will probably need revisions and changes. Therefore, it is important to gather feedback from important stakeholders. Stakeholders can be customers or project teammates.
Also, don't neglect usability tests. Whichever unmoderated or simulated method to choose depends on your goals, budget, and time restrictions.
After testing, edits are made to the wireframes, and when the wireframes are approved, designers proceed with prototyping and visual design.
Mobile App Wireframes by A Dedicated Team of Designers
Creating an app wireframe is a great investment in the success of your app. Entrust the work on the wireframes and designs to a reliable partner who not just knows how to wireframe an app but experienced in it
Celadon is a team of professional developers and designers who are ready to create an app wireframe for you with a focus on how the user will use your app. We will put our best skills and talents to create an app wireframe that is super easy to use, as well as intuitive, and visually appealing.