Converting your thoughts and ideas into some form is the first step toward creating a future mobile app. Such visual presentation is used to quickly coordinate the project details with the customer at the early stages of the work. This article will explain to you one of the methods of doing it.
What Is Mobile App Wireframing?
In their work, UI/UX designers often use such terms as wireframe, prototype, and mockup. Newcomers or people who do not work in this area often believe that these are all the same thing. Actually, no, and here are the differences:
1. Wireframe – This is a low-detail design version that is most often black-and-white. To create it, designers do not need unique images, logos, or other elements. The design should show the mobile app logic and the key blocks and sections. It does not perform any real product functions.
2. Mockup – Actually, this is a more detailed version of the wireframe but still without clickable items. In this version, we can see colors, selected images, and typography, and the main product features are shown graphically.
3. Prototype – This is a highly accurate representation of the future mobile app, displaying animation and allowing you to interact with the interface. Using it, you can already carry out usability tests and approve the final moments with the customer before the product release.
Each of the above versions of mobile app prototyping solve different issues. So, it is necessary to proceed from the original objectives. It goes without saying that creating a mockup or a prototype will take much more time than creating a wireframe. That is why wireframes are used in app development most often.
We recommend: 11 Steps of Mobile App Development Process.
5 Best Mobile App Wireframe Tools
We have prepared a list for you of various online tools designed to assist you in creating mobile application wireframes, which differ in their features and operational particularities.
Some of them are completely free to use, and almost anyone will be able to work with them. Moreover, you do not have to be a UI/UX designer.
This is one of the very first services designed to create wireframes. The tool is quite simple and provides a number of ready-made items in its library to use them with the drag-and-drop principle. The tool is available online and as an app for Windows/Mac OS.
Balsamiq has peculiar shapes of blocks and a peculiar default font. There are absolutely no clickable items or animations. Consequently, it is not suitable for everyone. The demo version can be used for free, but one session lasts no more than an hour. The paid version starts at $9/month.
This is a minimalistic and easy-to-use online tool, using which you can quickly create a mobile app wireframe. The tool is a great option for users who need a simple uncluttered user interface. You do not even have to sign in to work with the wireframe.
Wireframe.cc is perfectly suitable for creating quick low-accuracy and low-detail wireframes. However, if you need something more advanced, you will have to upgrade to the premium version (from $12). You will have a possibility to provide feedback and share prototypes with your teammates for joint editing. These features are only available in the paid version, as well.
This design editor has some built-in prototyping tools that are able to efficiently replace most online services designed to create wireframes. In this editor, you can choose a device for which a prototype is created. It even includes smartwatches.
Figma advantageously allows several users to work on one project at the same time, and all changes are saved in one project. The teammates communicate by commenting on the elements. Price: from $12/month.
Moqups is an online editor for website and application prototyping. You can make designs here by resorting to a simple scenario. There is a dashboard containing elements that you can easily drag into the workspace. Then, you can resize or reshape them, open the properties menu or color palette, and change other parameters.
The service includes a large library of ready-made elements like sets for iOS and Android operating systems (Material Design). You can also upload your own images. Moqups has a user-friendly interface, and you can easily cope with it even if you are using it for the first time. The paid service plan rates start at $19.
Marverlapp is a multifunctional design platform that can also be successfully used to create mobile app wireframing for various devices, including smartwatches. Among other features, the service has one particular peg – wireframe templates which are ready-made screen patterns. You can work with them in the “drag-and-drop” mode.
MarvelApp is notable for its simplicity and convenience, and the basic version (1 user, 2 projects) is free. Paid service plan rates start at $16/month.
Benefits of Mobile App Wireframing
The wireframe shows the main content of the eventual app, approximate interface visualization, and the way the user will interact with the interface. They are commonly used in project documentation and are well suited for quick task visualizations.
The main advantages that mobile app wireframing provides are as follows:
- it is possible to evaluate the concept of the eventual mobile app and understand how well developers comprehend the idea and the technical task;
- product architecture visual demonstration;
- find out whether it is necessary to make changes to the interaction pattern between the application and the user;
- if you act as an intermediary, you can quickly show your wireframe to the end customer;
- if you identify the need to change your app at the wireframe evaluation stage, you will save time and money, and it will be easier to make necessary corrections.
What wireframing tool for mobile apps do you use? Please share your experiences in the comments.