When it comes to product development, the most critical activity that you can do early on is wireframing. It helps you realize how your mobile application will work, which flows it has, how the screens are connected between each other, what functionality has to be removed, and which is added, etc. This knowledge gives you opportunity to make improvements before actual development starts and save time and money.
But first, you need to understand what an app wireframe is all about and what separates it from other concepts which are similar (e.g. Prototype, Sketch, Mockup). Okay, let’s go over this now.
Mobile App Wireframes: Defined
The process of app wireframing is derived from website design. According to Wikipedia, a website wireframe is a visual guide which outlines a website’s skeletal framework. It is basically a blueprint of the website.
With mobile application wireframing, the definition is quite similar. App wireframing as the interface of a screen that is shown in a 2-dimensional illustration. In other words, you can see how the product will be used by people.
Before app development starts, you are contemplating different ideas about your app and how it will look. This is when an app wireframe is created. Some people think that mobile app wireframes demonstrate the appearance of apps. This is partially true, but their main purpose is to demonstrate the functionality of the app and how exactly it will work for the end user.
The mobile app wireframe needs a limited amount of information to find solutions for various tasks:
- The app wireframe demonstrates how the app is beneficial to users.
- The app wireframe goes over every step of how to use the app and what that experience is like. This helps locate possible issues prior to development beginning.
- The app wireframe outlines the items on every screen, such as the main objects, navigational areas, content areas, and page elements.
- The app wireframe allows team members or stakeholders to have the same understanding of what is being developed.
- The app wireframe helps you to understand how you can raise the app engagement.
A mobile app wireframe is like the blueprint of a house. It allows you to see all the windows, doors, rooms, electricity, plumbing, and other features of the infrastructure. The only thing you cannot see are the possessions, such as cooking pots, furniture, and a television set.
The Difference Between Sketch & Wireframe & Mockup & Prototype
Throughout the early stages, there are a couple of concepts which can be helpful. These concepts are sketches, wireframes, mockups & prototypes, and they represent various stages of blueprinting, whether it’s for a mobile app or website. The scale always goes in this order:
As the scale progresses downward, the result becomes more defined.
You start out with a “Sketch’ to help visualize the project. This is a simple hand drawing of what you want the interface of your website or app to look like. The drawing can be based on a mere idea that you or your team has for the interface. There may be revisions or multiple sketches drawn before you get it right. This is something you should do by yourself.
The “Wireframe” of the mobile app is a serious step that you take next. Now you’re going to create a more accurate illustration of the product. This illustration depicts the functionality and structure of the website or app. You already know about the main qualities of the wireframe from the description above. This is a stage when you have to hire a mobile app development agency.
As you proceed further, you’ll need to define more specific details of your app idea. This is where the “Mockup” comes in handy. A Mockup is like a wireframe, except that you’re now including features like fonts, logos, colors, UI elements, and so on. You’ll need talented UI/UX designers here to have a beautiful mobile app at the end. This creates a much better perspective of what the app or website will look like.
Wireframes are like mental maps of an app or website. They depict every screen and show how they’re connected. This is how their functionality and structure are shown. Mockups, on the other hand, only show a couple of screens and their main features. They show the near full version of your product, including their design and visual details. If you’re ever pitching an app idea to investors, they’ll want to see the mockup before they consider doing business with you.
Therefore, the one thing that sketches, wireframes, and mockups have in common is they’re all illustrations which reflect how the final product may function and appear. Users cannot interact with the illustrations because they’re all static. The only way interaction can take place is with the next step… the prototype.
The “Prototype” allows users to get a feel for how your product functions. Some people call it a “clickable blueprint” which lets you interact with the product instead of just visualizing it. The buttons are clickable on the screen, so users can navigate around from one screen to the next.
But remember, wireframes are what you want to focus on the hardest. Remember these features of a wireframe:
- Wireframes allow you to catch issues and glitches early on. That way, you can provide a better customer experience for users as well as your investors.
- Only essential features are mentioned in wireframes. You won’t be worrying about things like logos or colors. You’ll only be focusing on functionality essentials.
The Important Reasons to Make an App Wireframe
1) Visualize how the app will help its users.
The main purpose of creating a mobile app wireframe is to clearly see how the product will be used by your customers. If you can see the areas which need improvement, you can work on making a better app before the final release.
Basically, a wireframe allows you to see if your product can solve your customers’ problems.
2) App Blueprint
It takes more than just having a good app idea before the app gets released on the market. You need to have a blueprint of the app which allows you to see where changes need to be made. This will help you reduce the number of issues in the app before it gets released. Furthermore, wireframing lets you see if your app does, in fact, solve your customers’ problems. If so, how does it do that?
When you share the wireframe with your stakeholders, especially with your investors, then your chances of receiving funding to finish the project will increase. Also, the leader of your organization is likely going to approve the next phase of the app’s development.
After you make the wireframe, you can start usability testing. This is where you sit down with people who have no previous knowledge of the app and go over all the major fundamentals of it. Once there is an understanding of what the project consists of, you will have a better idea of how to write the coding for it. This will reduce the chances of you having to fix bugs in the coding in the future.
3) Quickly Make a Perfect App While Avoiding Setbacks
As you develop wireframe, your primary focus is to fix pitfalls for your customers and to lay out a fabulous UX for them to use. Of course, you may not be successful during your first attempt.
It won’t take much time to make the app wireframes. In fact, they’re meant for quick iterations. Here is an overview of the entire cycle:
- The wireframe gets made by your app development team.
- You have a meeting with other people and present the wireframe to them. These could be leaders within your organization, customer focus groups, outside investors, or any other relevant stakeholders. Review their feedback on the wireframe and figure out where the pitfalls lie.
- Fix the pitfalls and apply other wireframe updates that are necessary, based on the feedback received.
- Repeat these steps quickly and repeatedly until your goal is reached.
When you want investors included in your app project, it helps to have visual material to show them in your presentations. This is the time when iterations are easier to make happen because the development has not started yet.
4) Wireframing Reduces the Chance of Mistakes
Wireframes assist in laying out how each screen functions, whether it’s an Android app or iOS app. You can decide which features are most important to include first and whether there’s enough room to put more things on the screen. Mobile app wireframes address these issues and more.
Basically, you can prioritize certain content over others that you want on the screen. Wireframes allow you to notice if the main content helps guide people toward the proper path or if it merely distracts them and doesn’t help guide them along.
After the wireframes are created, they can be shown to stakeholders for feedback and suggestions on how to improve them. Once you receive mostly positive feedback, you’ll know you’re going in the right direction.
5) Save Time and Money
Wireframing lets you discover unintentional mistakes and then remedy those mistakes before any coding is done. This will benefit you during the development process in the long run because you won’t need to recode anything.
Here is how the process goes:
- You and your development team establish what is being built and how it functions and assists your users.
- There is more structure, organization, and clarity as you create content for the product. You should know which elements are going where.
- Design estimations are easier to get right. There is no need to describe the app to the development team. You can simply show them the wireframe, so they’ll have a better chance of giving you what you want.
The earlier you spot flaws, the more likely you’ll save money because you won’t need to go back and fix anything during the advanced stages of the development process. Combining app wireframing with MVP approach is a key to creating a successful mobile app with no problems on the way.