A mobile app wireframe is the cornerstone of any iOS or Android app development project. The multistep design process of mobile app wireframing gives clarity as you build the app you envision.
To wireframe a mobile app is to create a blueprint or outline for the application structure. Illustrating this structure includes organizing the components and contents of the app. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mobile app wireframing, putting together an application wireframe is integral in adequately designing and developing an app.
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What Is a Mobile App Wireframe?
A mobile app wireframe is a comprehensible two-dimensional visual diagram of the app design. Without fully presenting an utterly functional product sample, it showcases only the main screens and critical interface elements.
A wireframe mobile app uses grayscale to simulate and portray the skeletal framework of the application. The application wireframe enables designers and developers to explore and collect valuable insights on the concepts for layout and interaction. Through mobile app wireframing, you support your dev team with a clearer vision, scope, and overall direction of the project.
4 Types of Wireframe Mobile App
When mobile app wireframing, it is vital to test and innovate. The form of mobile app wireframe to use depends on the app requirements. Get a closer look at the four mobile application wireframe techniques:
1. Paper Wireframe
The paper wireframe uses the traditional hand-drawn wireframe method wherein you scribble down on paper the visual formulation of the application idea. It is likely the most accessible and convenient place to begin the fundamental app conceptualization before moving and saving the plan on a device.
2. Low-Fidelity (Lo-Fi) Wireframe
The low-fidelity wireframe is another basic model for sketching out an application’s interface configuration and graphical workflow.
A lo-fi mobile app wireframe is a less detailed depiction of the content hierarchy, page segments and subsections, structural layout, and navigation buttons. It displays only the most essential building blocks for user workflow on the screen, such as placeholders, banners, and filler texts. The primary purpose of this mobile app wireframing technique is to establish your objectives for the project.
3. Medium-Fidelity (Mid-Fidelity) Wireframe
The medium-fidelity wireframe is a more comprehensive form of application wireframe than lo-fi or paper wireframe. It brings more refinement to the first two types of wireframing.
Mid-fidelity wireframing sets the stage for the final UI design you have in mind, providing you with a more solid and detailed overview of the app features. For this style of wireframe mobile app, the designer can already integrate recommendations for proper text weights and content spacing while still utilizing grayscale.
4. High-Fidelity (Hi-Fi) Wireframe
The high-fidelity wireframe is a high-resolution, pixel-specific form of mobile app wireframing. It requires a high-quality design tool so that designers can thoroughly demonstrate its appearance in more precise detail to the developers.
In hi-fi wireframing, the design specialist can go in-depth with how they visualize the product’s final look and feel. They can specify the photo selections, icons, typeface and fonts, buttons and placement, colors and backdrops.
Since it contains all that goes into the final output, this model is the wireframe design closest to the functional prototype and the actual application.
9 Steps to Mobile App Wireframing
Here is the step-by-step wireframing process flow:
Step #1: Map Out of the Targeted User Workflow
In this phase of mobile app wireframe production, you should lay out your plan for the user flow. Finalize the number of screens, segments, and subsections you will be designing and how you foresee the users will interact with each. You can simply show the user flow through plain boxes and instructional arrows.
Step #2: Determine and Sketch the Primary Portions of the User Workflow
This wireframing stage intends to identify the practical purpose and function of each page on the app for end-users or businesses.
Using mid-fidelity wireframe is recommended for detailing the user flow. This visualization procedure opens the discussion for feedback and suggestions between the design team and the dev team.
Step #3: Position the Mobile Frame
While using any regular rectangle to frame the mobile app design, it is ideal for working with a rectangular frame with more visible and tangible dimensions instead.
A mobile frame with more depth and volume will be a natural constraint for the app designer. It will help keep them from overdoing the design and adding too many items. In addition, a more dimensional rectangle helps create an illusion for the actual design.
Step #4: Lay Out through Suitably Arranged Boxes
Visualize and set the layout, structure, and hierarchy of the design without putting strong focus on contents and information. This step aims to propose and figure out how users will scan and move around the application pages. Also, this is where you potentially spot inefficiencies that may make the app usage difficult, and hence, find ways to modify and correct them.
Step #5: Use a Good Design Pattern
Replicate your product's familiar, if not universal, UX/UI design elements. These include content blocks that are common to many end-users. Components like a floating action button (FAB), a top-level or bottom tab bar, and a side drawer are some of the most frequently used design patterns. They are easily recognizable and intuitively user-friendly, making the navigation paths clear and straightforward.
Step #6: Start Adding Actual Contents
Once you have the visual hierarchy in place, you can start replacing dummy texts and placeholders with an authentic copy for actual use on the app. The copy may be a finalized version, but polished drafts will do.
This is advisable when wireframing because information on the copy can remind the design team of the purpose of each page or item on the frame. Having supporting informative texts helps ease and even hasten the design process. Moreover, designers can translate written content into fitting design ideas.
Step #7: Ensure the Content Scales Appropriately
Bear in mind that devices come in different sizes. That is why it is crucial to check if the appearance of texts and graphics adjusts accordingly and remains proportional on varying screen sizes.
Step #8: Interlink the Pages and Create a UX Flow
Start stitching together all the elements on your mobile app wireframe and make a UX flow based on how the items function to support the app.
The UX flow helps designers and developers paint a picture of various scenarios of user interaction with the product. As they study and analyze the simulated UX flows, they can make amendments to the wireframe as necessary.
Step #9: Test the UX Flow
Mobile app wireframe testing allows you to see if the screens and pages are harmoniously interacting and generally working as they should be.
Inclusions and Exclusions in a Mobile App Wireframe
Regardless of how you approach mobile app wireframe creation or what model you adopt, the standard design components are the same. As a minimum, an effective wireframe mobile app illustrates the following elements:
- Content hierarchy
- Object categories
- Navigation areas
- Page elements
- User actions
- Conversion and transition elements
An application wireframe should not include:
- Extensive stylization
- Photos and other vivid graphics
- Click-throughs and hyperlinks
- Interactive search functionality
- Interactive subscription forms
Top Tools for Application Wireframe Creation
Here are efficient mobile app wireframing tools and software that are most popular among developers and designers:
- Justinmind, a one-stop-shop for creating hi-fi wireframes and app prototypes
- Mockplus, a desktop-based drag-and-drop tool offering thousands of templates for icons and other app components
- Balsamiq, a flexible, intuitive, and convenient mobile app wireframing tool that switches from sketch mode for conceptualization to clean mode for presentation
- Miro, a handy wireframing platform that allows remote collaboration
- Moqups, a purely web-based wireframing tool with built-in mockups and templates conveniently available online, so you can use it anywhere
- InVision, an interactive tool that enables all project contributors to edit and leave comments on the wireframe in progress directly
- Pidoco, a cloud-hosted software with shareable, reusable, and customizable templates
- Framer, a mockup tool with the ability to mimic movements and interactions while testing and sharing them with your team
What Is a Wireframe for an App and Its Importance?
You should never skip mobile app wireframing for the following reasons:
1. A mobile app wireframe validates your product idea
Your team will acknowledge the goals of the app you are building. It helps you keep your focus on these goals throughout the process. You will see and understand how it can help and add value to end-users.
2. Mobile app wireframing leaves room for enhancements
An application wireframe gives you a broad perspective of the product development process. It provides the dev and design teams with a clear view of what will become of the final product, so you can synergistically work toward it.
3. It saves you time and extra funds due to costly errors
Sketching a wireframe before diving into actual app development keeps you from any major pitfalls in the future. It allows you to revisit the illustration as often as you please and revise it multiple times until you take the framework closest to its perfect state.
Pro Tips for Mobile App Wireframing
Below are pointers to keep in mind and ideally put into practice when devising a wireframe:
- Consult stakeholders and take note of feedback.
- Find inspiration in other existing wireframe samples.
- Be adept at using all four types of wireframing.
- Remember the project objectives and organize your work according to these goals.
- Use only a few select tools and software and stick to using them throughout the wireframing process.
- Be open to application development outsourcing.
In a Nutshell: Key Points on Mobile App Wireframe
In creating a mobile app wireframe, choose function over form. Make sure you are equipped with the right platform and tools whose features and functionalities are capable of realizing the meaningful goal of the prospective final product. It is equally important to align the UX workflows with the purpose of the development application.
Finally, do not bypass testing. Testing your mobile app wireframe helps you find any friction points, gauge the ease or difficulty of app usage, and know if the screen workflow lives up to user expectations.
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