printouts of app wireframes

How to Create an App Wireframe

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So you’ve finally decided to develop an app. Congratulations! That’s a smart move, seeing as how desktop usage is still on the decline while mobile devices are on the rise.

The number of downloaded apps continues to climb, year after year. The mobile app market is predicted to be worth $188.9 billion by 2020.

If you’re serious about building an app, you’ll want to make that process as efficient and painless as possible. This will stop you from becoming discouraged when you hit a snag. It’ll also stop you from wasting precious time, money, and resources.

Today, we’re going to show you how to streamline your app development process using a highly useful technique – wireframing. You’ll learn how to build an app wireframe, as well as some reasons why you might want to do so.

What Is an App Wireframe?

For starters, let’s learn what an app wireframe is and why developers tend to use them.

An app wireframe is similar to any other flowchart or sitemap for a website. It defines the information hierarchy for an app, website, or digital product. The app wireframe process determines how the user will process the information on the app, based on existing UX user data.

Before designing a product for the screen, you’ll need to decide where that information’s going to go. This will make coding much easier and more streamlined. It’ll also impact the GUI design.

In fact, while there are no hard-and-fast rules in app development, we’d go so far as to suggest you should never start coding or building your GUI before at least doing some kind of mock-up. It’s much easier to draw some arrows than it is to move data around inside the code.

Creating an app wireframe will help ensure your app considers substance as much as style. No amount of flashy bells and whistles will make an app useful. If it’s not useful, why waste time and money putting it out there?

Now that we’ve defined our terminology, let’s take a look at how to create an app wireframe in earnest.   

Step #1: Know What You’re Making

Users expect apps to be clean, efficient, and intuitive in their function. They expect it to only take a couple of clicks to switch between screens.

To start, don’t waste any time thinking about aesthetic choices like colors or fonts. Instead, think about what you’d like your app to do. This will help you decide which functions need to be implemented to make that happen.

Your app wireframe is essentially the road map that will lead you to your finalized app.

Step #2: Focus on User Experience

When it comes to creating digital assets, you should never forget your audience. If you wouldn’t even write a blog post or an email without factoring in your users’ tastes and pain points, why would you go to market with an app without remembering UX?

Not everyone uses technology in the same way. If you’re creating apps for 20-somethings, they’re going to be much savvier and need far less guidance than other demographics.

If you’re creating an app for people who are less tech-savvy, you might have to walk them through things a little bit more.

Either way, an app wireframe will help streamline this process for you. Your wireframe lets you create a mock-up, before the finalized version, so your users can experiment and give you feedback.

Step #3: See What’s out There

Now that you know what you’re trying to do and what your audience is looking for, it’s time to start thinking about the finished product. One of the beautiful things about technology, especially popular tech like apps, is that you don’t need to come up with everything from scratch. To say there are a lot of apps on the market is the understatement of the century.

Seeing what other apps exist lets you potentially reverse engineer some of their features, so you won’t have to code everything from scratch. Even if you know what you’re trying to implement, it’s still a good idea to look at other apps in your niche. It’ll help you avoid creating a redundant app that won’t be all that useful for your users.

Step #4: Start Building Your App Wireframe

At this point, you’re ready to depart the conceptual phase of your app development and start actually building your app wireframe. You can either do so using analog methods, like a large whiteboard or dedicated notebook. Or you can go about it in the digital domain.

There are numerous app wireframing tools that are available online, often for free. These digital tools will make your app development as painless as possible. It’ll also handle some of the compiling issues, making sure your code and app design are working properly as you go.

Step #5: Build a Prototype

Now that your app isn’t just a figment of your imagination or some scratches on a whiteboard, it’s time to build your app for real. Or a model of it, anyway.

Prototyping is the stage where you start connecting the different levels of your app. One example might be a pulldown menu. Another would be associating images and buttons with their functions.

At this point, you should have a working app mockup! It’ll be much faster and much less expensive than having to create a fully functional version. You don’t know pain until you’ve created an entire app, from start to finish, only to find out it doesn’t work or that nobody cares.  

Looking for More App Development Resources?

We don’t blame you! There’s no end to the possibilities of carrying such powerful computers around in our pockets and purses, which are constantly connected to the Internet. Not even sci-fi authors dreamed of the potential that mobile technology has unleashed.

Whether you’re looking to develop an app wireframe or extensive app roundups and reviews, we bring you the most cutting-edge news and insights into the latest Android and iOS updates.

Browse the rest of our app articles today to stay connected and informed!