What are mobile wireframes?
Mobile wireframes are low-fidelity blueprints for a mobile application. They serve as a bridge between concept ideation and design and development. Mobile wireframes illustrate how an app will look and function by outlining elements like text boxes, image placeholders, buttons, and more.
Benefits of mobile app wireframes
Wireframes help you visualize what users will experience with your app. Here are just a few benefits to the process.
They align your team
Before progressing too far into app design and development, it’s important that your entire team is aligned on the goals and objectives of the app. Wireframes provide teams with the opportunity to review and critique layout and user experience before additional time and resources are invested in bringing the app to life.
They facilitate iteration
Wireframes take more time to plan and strategize than they do to design, so iterations can be made quickly. And the earlier revisions are made, the more likely it is that your project will stay on budget and achieve the most effective design.
They guide the entire project
Mobile wireframes give your team a snapshot of the project and can help inform budget decisions. For example, a designer may suggest a certain app layout to optimize the user experience, but that approach might require more development time and effort than originally budgeted. Identifying this information early on in the process allows you to adjust the budget and timeline accordingly.
How to create mobile app wireframes
Wireframes are integral to successful mobile app creation. Here’s a basic step-by-step guide to creating your own.
Identify your target audience
Understanding your target audience is key to delivering great value to your end-user. Seek to understand your audience’s pain points, needs, and goals, and use this information to craft a user flow that meets those needs.
Sketch the design
Once you have a clear understanding of your target end-users, it’s time to map out the user journey. Some designers will jump directly into wireframes for this, but it’s also common to start with sketching, the in-between step between ideation and wireframing. Sketching is a rough outline of the user journey, and it can be completed with pen and paper or various online tools. Many designers will ask for feedback on sketches before building mobile wireframes to increase the value and quality of the wireframes.
Build the wireframes
Mobile wireframes are simply digital, rectangular frames that represent each screen of your mobile app. Although not absolutely necessary, it’s most effective to build mobile wireframes to the scale of a common mobile device. This can give your team confidence in knowing which design elements to include and where.
Refine layout and user flow
As you create each wire, consider the user flow. Does it make sense for your user to see this screen after that screen? Would it be more intuitive to add a button here? Keep your end-user in mind. What do they need to see in order to achieve the desired outcome? When do they need to see it? Revise the content and order of your wireframes to create the optimal flow.
Follow design best practices
There are certain design best practices apps should adhere to. These include visual cues like a house icon button that directs the user back to the home screen or a trash can icon where users can dispose of unwanted files, as well as familiar and functional layouts. For example, a bottom center button that’s easily accessible by the thumb. Creativity is encouraged, but be sure your app is aligned with what your users are familiar with.
Add key design elements
While wireframes are intended to be guidelines, not complete designs, it’s helpful to add in key design elements like navigation, buttons, text boxes, image layouts, and more to help your team visualize the user experience in greater detail.
Review, iterate, and present
Once you’ve crafted your wireframes, gather feedback from designers and developers. See what’s working and what could be improved. Make any necessary revisions and you’re ready to present to external stakeholders.