App wireframes are a crucial part of any good mobile app development process. App wireframing is typically one of the first steps taken in app development. Many mobile app designers would argue that mobile app wireframes are critical to the creation and design process.
It is easy to confuse app wireframes with mockups or prototypes. Likewise, some people may erroneously call a mockup a wireframe. While all of these terms are closely related, they are different, and if your business wants to design a mobile app, you must understand what app wireframes are.
This post will explain what app wireframes are and why they are an integral part of the app development process.
What are App Wireframes?
App wireframing originated in web development, but as technology has advanced and mobile phones have become the primary way people use apps and surf the Internet, app wireframes now typically refer to mobile apps. However, it should be noted that wireframing is still used in developing and designing websites and web apps.
A wireframe is a visual guide that depicts the outline of how a user will interact with the screen. The easiest way to think about app wireframes is to imagine a blueprint. A blueprint shows the skeletal framework of a home, but it does not show the finer details like the color of the cabinets or the finish on the countertops.
Mobile app wireframes are created before development even begins. They offer the development team and key stakeholders a chance to start design thinking about how users interact with the app. A common misconception is that a mobile app wireframe will depict how an app will look and feel. In a sense, an app wireframe will give you an idea of what an app will look like, but the primary purpose of a wireframe is to illustrate how a mobile app will work.
Mockups are more for mobile app design in terms of colors, fonts, illustrations, etc. The mobile app wireframe doesn’t need to include all of these extraneous UI elements. Instead, a solid app wireframe will illustrate the following important points:
- How will this mobile app work, and how will it help target users?
- What does each step of the user journey look like? Are there any potential pitfalls?
- Where will the main objects, such as content, navigation, buttons, etc., appear on each page?
The goal of an app wireframe is to get everyone involved in the development project on the same page in terms of what is being built. Mobile app development is often a large project. If you don’t have every member of the development team and key stakeholders on the same page, your project could run into serious problems once code starts to get written. This could cause costly delays, and it could even prevent your project from getting finished at all.
The Importance of App Wireframes
We briefly touched upon the importance of app wireframes in the previous section, but now we will detail the specific reasons why wireframes are a vital part of app development. The main reasons why you should create an app wireframe are:
- Visualize how your app will work
- Improvement of the development process
- Fast iterations
- Save time and money
Visualize How Your App Will Work
The primary reason developers create app wireframes is to visualize how their app will function and how users will interact with it. Your team needs to understand and have a clear vision of how your app will work if you want to succeed. An app wireframe allows you to experience typical user flows without writing a single line of code.
By app wireframing, development teams can see if their app is helpful to their target audience. This process can help developers and key stakeholders decide which ideas are good and should move forward into production and which ideas are unhelpful to users and should be left behind.
Even the best app ideas likely changed between the time of the initial concept and the introduction to the market. App wireframes give developers a clear process and space to explore early changes and new ideas in an organized manner.
Additionally, suppose you are a startup trying to pitch your mobile app to investors. In that case, app wireframes offer you the best way to share your ideas with potential investors and demonstrate the real-world value of your mobile app.
Improvement of the Development Process
The app development process typically involves several people. Depending on the size and scope of the app, there could be several teams all working together on the same project. As you can imagine, communication can become an issue the larger a team becomes. App wireframes improve the development process by aiding real-time communications and eliminating design errors.
App wireframes offer each member of the development team insights into the tasks that the other members are working on, which improves the project’s workflow. These insights help foster clearer communication, which helps cut down on potential design errors and leads to an overall faster development time. In addition, improved internal workflow helps development teams focus on valuable feedback and meet deadlines.
Version one is typically not the final product. Mobile apps go through several iterations before they ever get released to the public. Since app wireframes are just skeletal blueprints, they don’t take much time to produce, making them perfect for fast iterations. It is better to go through as many iterations as you can during app wireframing. The further you get in the app development process, the longer iterations take and the costlier they become.
Before you move on to the next stage of development, you should ensure that you have accurately tracked your user flows, addressed common pain points, and created a good User Experience.
Save Time and Money
Catching and fixing mistakes as early as possible saves time and money. We’ve already discussed how app wireframing improves the development process and cuts down on errors. App wireframes help businesses save time and money in other ways too. For one, an app wireframe will make it clear if your idea is even viable. If your idea isn’t viable, you don’t waste time and money developing a product that won’t be used.
Another way app wireframes help businesses save time and money is by simplifying the content creation process. With a wireframe, the content creation process is ordered and clear. Your content team doesn’t have to ask what or where. They just have to create content as specified.
Early preparation will always save you time and money in the long run. App wireframes help you get a clear understanding of your app before you spend time and money creating it.
App wireframing is one of the first steps your business should take if you have an idea for an app. The great thing about app wireframes is that you don’t need technical expertise to express your ideas. You could use a computer program to create a wireframe, or you could even sketch your idea out with pen and paper. If you need help creating app wireframes or validating your app idea, reach out to an app development partner.