Why Wireframing of Your Mobile App Is So Important?

Mobile app development is a complicated and multi-stage process. What would be your first step?

It often happens that you have an excellent idea for a mobile app but don’t know where to start. Our clients frequently ask us the same question. Let's see what we usually tell them.

So the good news is - we have an answer for you!

Our advice is to wireframe your app first.
We believe that this is the best way to start your work on application development.

Let’s find out what wireframing is and why it’s the best starting point when you work on your app.

This article is for you if:

  • You don’t know much about the concept;
  • You don’t know how to wireframe an app;
  • You don’t know why it’s important to create an app wireframe.

What is wireframing?

First of all, we have to figure out what these mysterious words “mobile app wireframe” mean.

This concept came to mobile app development from the web design.

Wikipedia says that:

A website wireframe, also known as a page schematic or screen blueprint, is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website.

Talking specifically about mobile apps, we would give this definition of a wireframe:

A two-dimensional illustration of a screen’s interface.

In a nutshell, a wireframe for mobile app is a simplified visual concept of the future app. It doesn’t give any idea about the design but helps to understand how the application will work.

You have probably seen architectural blueprints before. They are a roadmap of the whole construction process. This is basically what a wireframe is for mobile app development.

Wireframes
(image by Eddie Lobanovkiy)

The wireframes are the skeleton of a mobile app.


What do they show?

  • Space distribution;
  • Content prioritization;
  • Available functions;
  • Intended actions;
  • Relationships between screens.

Wireframes can be presented as they are or used to create a mind map of a mobile app. For example:

Mindmap
A mindmap
A wireframe shows: A wireframe doesn't show:
Page elements Design elements
Object categories Colors
Content prioritization Actual images
Possible actions Fonts
Visual branding elements Logos

Sketch, wireframe, mockup, prototype.What is the difference?

If you Google the word “wireframe”, you will probably see a few more words related to it. They are:

  • “sketch”;
  • “mockup”;
  • “prototype”.

Let’s try to find out what these are and what the difference between them is.

A sketch

A sketch is the simplest thing. So we will deal with it first.

A sketch is just a hand drawing. It’s the way for you to visualize your project idea.

Imagine, you were sitting in a cafe, thinking about your app, and suddenly got the inspiration. You take a napkin and draw on it. This is a sketch.
Or you had a long brainstorming with your team. After some discussion, you came up with an idea and draw it so you wouldn’t forget. Here comes the sketch!

Sketch
A sketch (image by Eddie Lobanovkiy)

A wireframe

Let’s move on. We already know what a wireframe is. Just to remind you - it’s a blueprint of your app that schematically shows the objects on the screen and any possible functions.

Wireframes
Wireframes for iPhone (image by Wei Liu)

Is it getting clearer now?

A mockup

Next step would be a mockup. It includes some design elements like colors, text, and fonts, logos or images.

Design process
A mobile app design process

You can see the evolution. But there is still something missing.

A prototype

An app should interact with its user, right?

This is what a prototype is for. While creating it, you enrich your mockup with UX features you would like to see in your app.
The prototype will not have the full functionality but will implement the idea of the project to the reality.

Prototype
(image by Michael Pons)

Are there any other tools?

We couldn’t hide another great tool from you. We mentioned it above already.

Creating a mind map is sometimes even more efficient than prototyping.

Stormotion mindmap
A mindmap for an app

Is there any difference in wireframing for iOS and Android?

Now you know more about the terminology and stages of designing your mobile app are clear for you.

But the question is: what platform you are going to launch your app on? And does it matter about wireframing?

Mobile platforms
Different mobile platforms

Platforms are different. No doubt about that. And mobile apps for them differ as well. So while you are creating a wireframe for mobile app, it seems to be a smart thing to develop two separate ones - one for iOS and one for Android.

Our experience proves the opposite to be true. There is no difference between an ios app wireframe and an android app wireframe.


Quality wireframes are universal for any platform.


It’s easier to make a wireframe for ios app. So we usually make it first. As the main elements on the screen will be the same, there is no need to develop one more for Android.

The only possible difference can be the position of each element on the screen. You should keep this in mind when you build a wireframe for android app after you developed one for iOS.

Why is wireframing of the mobile apps important?

Now we know the theory. It’s time to get an answer to the main question of this article.

So why are wireframes important during the mobile app development process?

1. They give you a clear idea of what your app will look like and how it will work.

No one wants to buy a pig in a poke. When you hire a team of developers, you usually have just a vague idea of the final product.
To create an app wireframe - it’ll be clearer what each screen of the app is going to be.

You will have a chance to explain the team what your expectations are and which functions you want your app to have. When having a wireframe in front of you, you can be sure that everything looks and feels great.


2. They ease transitions in the project.

Wireframes are simple and visual. Feel free to make changes while they are easy to implement.

When you change anything, you can see the effect right away. No need to wait ‘till the developers team rewrites the code of your app.

Digital wireframes
Wireframes are easy to change (image by Sean Haplin)

3. They reduce the overall cost of the project.

As changes can be made at the early stages of the project, it will be cheaper to do. You will not have to pay your developers for doing the same work with a few changes twice.

With a good wireframe, you are prepared to launch the app mpre effectively. You will not have to fix any problems later on when it’s quite costly. It’s a definite financial advantage.


4. They insure you from unpleasant surprises.

You see what developers work on from the very beginning and cooperate with them constantly, therefore there are very few chances that something would go wrong.

A wireframe also helps you with planning the launch of your future app. Both you and your developers know how much time it will require to create the application. Everybody will have time to prepare.


5. They give you visual materials for promotion when the project is only starting.

If you need to involve investors for your project, you will have a nice visual material you can use for presentations and pitches right away.

Stormotion app mindmap
A mindmap by Stormotion

This is why we believe that wireframing is a great start. Are you with us?


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