How To Create A Wireframe For Your Mobile App

Do you want to build a mobile app? Which type of app are you looking to create? How do you want it to look like? What are the app’s functionalities? On what platform is the app going to be? Indeed, you must have a lot in mind for your mobile applications. There are many stages of mobile app design. But, if the end product is going to be something you and your users will fall in love with, the whole process must start with having mobile app wireframe.

What Is A Mobile Wireframe?

An app wireframe is like a blueprint of a gigantic building project. It contains the rough visual layout, placement, and navigation of your app. A wireframe defines your app’s design journey at the very beginning. It does the same for users’ navigation through the app.

It is at the wireframing level that you’ll get right the features and layout placement of the app. This is where you’ll determine how various components of the app work together. You’re thereby forming the whole structural interaction of the app. It’s your app wireframe that shows the tech that will best support the app.

Wireframes are outlines for the designers of mobile applications. It keeps you on track when you’re developing your mobile apps. You’ve shut out all distractions that may surface during the process. It starts from something as skeletal as a simple sketch. It can also contain a more complex dictate of workflow requirements. These are essential for the development of your app or website.

Wireframes are not only about how mobile apps will look. While the design may be in the outline, it’s mainly about how the application will work. The table below summarizes the content of an ideal app wireframe sketch.

  Sketched on wireframe Not sketched on wireframes
1 Page elements Design elements
2 Object categories Fonts
3 Conversation areas Colors
4 Navigation areas Images
5 Conversation areas Styled graphics
6 Possible actions Logs


You need to understand the difference between a wireframe sketch and a mockup of mobile apps. It’s also important to realize how that differs from the app prototype.

Sketch, Mockup, And Prototype

A sketch is the most fundamental form of project visualization. It’s generally a free-hand drawing of the app or website interface. This is what you need the moment you conceive an idea or get an inspiration to build an app. The concept may be a product of your team brainstorming. Wherever it comes from, you may need to sketch it immediately so that you don’t forget the app idea later. This usually is the genesis of any mobile app wireframe.

After reflecting on the idea you’ve conceptualized, you can arrive at a more definite vision of the app. The deep thought given to it will produce an accurate illustration. It will show you the digital product structure and its functionalities. It’s the fuller and more accurate perspective that’ll produce something called “mockup.”

A mockup is the detail of features that are not on the sketch of an app wireframe as identified earlier. A mockup also contains UI elements and a preview of your website or application. A mockup enables you to test the visual details of your app. You can from this level program your future design implementation.

It’s after this that you can build a prototype of your product. You can even make a presentation of your app to potential investors using its mockup. But everything starts with wireframing.

How To Create A Wireframe For Your Mobile App

Importance Of Wireframing Your App

1. A wireframe helps you determine how your app can help your users

Hardly anyone can argue against this as the number one reason for wireframing mobile apps. If you start to build your app without wireframing it, you won’t have a clear vision of how it will work for your customers. You’ll only depend on the user’s feedback to know how it works. It’s good to ask yourself this while wireframing:

What are the features that will solve the problem(s) you’ve identified?

2. It provides you with a blueprint of your application

Every good idea must have gone through a series of modifications. That’s the opportunity your app wireframe will give you. Wireframe is like a drawing of a gigantic house. The needed adjustments and finishing will become obvious as you study your plans. In the same vein, a wireframe will let you know how each feature will help to solve a problem for your customer.

You will be in a better position to answer the questions from your clients or investors. You would have earlier asked and found answers to likely questions about your app. Garry Tan, an app design expert and the co-founder of big app organization has the following to say:

“Once you have the wireframe you can start doing usability testing. You can print it out and sit down with people who have never seen it before and just walk them through it. Or even better: just ask open-ended questions. . . . Before you even write a line of code you can do a lot to test whether this thing is going to work. And it’s way cheaper to do it at this stage than fix this as a bug in code later.”

3. It’s a fast iteration to a great product without pitfalls

Your goal of an app wireframe should be to solve pain-points of your users and give them a great UX. One cool thing about the process of wireframing is that it does all that without much time. You can have fast iterations without having to make a lot of corrections. Presentation and pitches will become seamless.

4. It helps you to avoid mistakes at the advanced stage

When you wireframe an app, especially for iOS, you can avoid execution errors. For instance, you would have laid out the functionality of all screens. You would have known if a screen has enough space to place all that should be there. It will also help you determine which features should come out first. Wireframe helps to prioritize content. Such a hierarchy of elements helps you know if the content guides the users in the right way or not.

If you’re designing the app for others, you can show the wireframe to the client and get feedback. Adding this to the process helps it come out great.

5. It helps reduce costs of time and money during development

When you’ve identified mistakes and fixed them on wireframes. You’ll be sure that what you’re converting into codes is error-free. You won’t have to fix any bug in code later. Your team has already had a clear vision and understanding of your goal regarding the app. The content creation is clearer; it’ll be more organized. All questions and uncertainties would have been cleared. Estimation becomes easier and explanation crisp. All these translate to the reduction of time.

Importance Of Wireframing Your App

1. A wireframe helps you determine how your app can help your users

Hardly anyone can argue against this as the number one reason for wireframing mobile apps. If you start to build your app without wireframing it, you won’t have a clear vision of how it will work for your customers. You’ll only depend on the user’s feedback to know how it works. It’s good to ask yourself this while wireframing:

What are the features that will solve the problem(s) you’ve identified?

2. It provides you with a blueprint of your application

Every good idea must have gone through a series of modifications. That’s the opportunity your app wireframe will give you. Wireframe is like a drawing of a gigantic house. The needed adjustments and finishing will become obvious as you study your plans. In the same vein, a wireframe will let you know how each feature will help to solve a problem for your customer.

You will be in a better position to answer the questions from your clients or investors. You would have earlier asked and found answers to likely questions about your app. Garry Tan, an app design expert and the co-founder of big app organization has the following to say:

“Once you have the wireframe you can start doing usability testing. You can print it out and sit down with people who have never seen it before and just walk them through it. Or even better: just ask open-ended questions. . . . Before you even write a line of code you can do a lot to test whether this thing is going to work. And it’s way cheaper to do it at this stage than fix this as a bug in code later.”

3. It’s a fast iteration to a great product without pitfalls

Your goal of an app wireframe should be to solve pain-points of your users and give them a great UX. One cool thing about the process of wireframing is that it does all that without much time. You can have fast iterations without having to make a lot of corrections. Presentation and pitches will become seamless.

4. It helps you to avoid mistakes at the advanced stage

When you wireframe an app, especially for iOS, you can avoid execution errors. For instance, you would have laid out the functionality of all screens. You would have known if a screen has enough space to place all that should be there. It will also help you determine which features should come out first. Wireframe helps to prioritize content. Such a hierarchy of elements helps you know if the content guides the users in the right way or not.

If you’re designing the app for others, you can show the wireframe to the client and get feedback. Adding this to the process helps it come out great.

5. It helps reduce costs of time and money during development

When you’ve identified mistakes and fixed them on wireframes. You’ll be sure that what you’re converting into codes is error-free. You won’t have to fix any bug in code later. Your team has already had a clear vision and understanding of your goal regarding the app. The content creation is clearer; it’ll be more organized. All questions and uncertainties would have been cleared. Estimation becomes easier and explanation crisp. All these translate to the reduction of time.

How To Create A Wireframe For Your Mobile App

Steps Involved In Creating A Wireframe

It takes anywhere between 40 to 70 hours to create a wireframe for Android or iOS app. That is when everything is set, according to experienced app developers. The following are the steps involved in building an app wireframe.

1. Figure Out the basics

It starts by gathering basic information about the app. You must know the following:

  1. Your target audience
  2. How easy they will find it to use

iii. The priority customers to go after first

  1. Category of customers that make bad markets
  2. The current problems that the app hopes to solve
  3. How the app will solve the problem

vii. The actual functionalities that will tackle the problems

viii. Features that give users extra satisfaction

  1. How the buyer’s journey will look like
  2. The likelihood of their willingness to pay

2. List out the details of the features

The facts deduced from the above points will tell you what features the apps need to have. You may prepare a content spreadsheet for this. You’ll find this handy when wireframing your mobile app.

3. Draw the basic mobile wireframe of the app

This is when you mark up the screens with different content blocks. At this point, you should be able to define the best spot for specific elements. You can now know the hierarchy of visions on the screen. For example, you can determine the best place to place video content.

4. Draw detailed wireframes

You can now proceed to create a lookalike wireframe of your app. You can add details to the zones you’ve marked. Buttons, icons, textboxes, placeholders for images and videos, spacing and more can now be in their set places. Forget about putting real images or video previews now. Simply mark their boxes. Use bold and italic texts to prioritize your contents. You can also change their size and placement on the screen.

5. Working in the correct confines

There are standard and commonly used interface sizes for each platform. You have to set your Sketch or Figma Art board for iOS and Android wireframes, for example. Your fonts and their sizes should be standard and of the correct size. All these will enable you to see how neat and reasonable the wireframing fits within the standard for the platform.

Tools For Creating App Wireframes

The following are the best of a large number of tools you can use to create app wireframes:

1. Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a rapid wireframing tool that digitalizes the comfort of sketch-style wireframes.  It helps to generate ideas fast. It doesn’t focus on the minute details. It rather focuses on creating content and interactions. It has an array of UI element with over 75 built-in interface components. It also has more than 187 icons plus a wide range of community-generated components. You’ll find all sorts of readymade objects and elements in this tool.

It’s a good one for users who hope to refine designs ideas, request feedback, and revise their designs.

2. Omnigraffle

Omnigraffle is one wireframe tool with a great volume of stencils for a quick mockup of an app for the iPhone. It’s a diagram application. With Omnigraffle, you can create your custom shapes and stencils using the Pen Tool. It has layers that you can use to organize your project with your canvas. If you’re good at using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, you’ll enjoy this app. You’ll find Omnigraffle useful for the common elements. You can use them again across a variety of canvases.

It’s also a design tool with features like leading, kerning, and margins. Omnigraffle has a lot of default templates and stencils. All these combine with others available on other tools.

3. Justinmind

This is a tool for creating high-fidelity, rich, and interactive wireframes for apps. It’s quite customizable with gestures for iPhone, Android, and iPad. These gestures include swipe, tap-and-hold, rotate, and pinch. All these make your prototype of the app very interactive. These interfaces are within an easy rich of developers and designers.

This tool also has a rich supply of UI elements like buttons, forms, and shapes. You’ll also see a vast library of widgets for the common app platforms. This interesting tool also offers online presentation support. It does this by letting users share wireframes via the cloud. Users can retrieve the feedback and this makes it a nice platform for collaboration.

You’ll also love the “simulate” feature of this app. It simulates your app prototype if you change your wireframe. You can use it to group widgets into libraries. With Justinmind, there are widget libraries for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and others.

4. Moqups

If you use Moqups to create your app wireframe, you’ve got a wireframe that you can access across all OS. Throughout the design process, all users are connected. It’s a smart tool for creating loving an attractive interface. Its flexible drag and drop UI concept enables you to tinker with icons and images. So you can place them into your projects from the built-in library and personal projects.

It also has pre-built stencils, a rich depository of stylish fonts, and organized pages.  Integrated with different cloud services, designers can work from anywhere. The most fascinating feature of this tool is the snap to grid. It gives room for perfect alignment of objects. But you can’t ignore the ability to size the grid and preview your wireframes.

5. Axure

This is one of the simplest tools for creating an interactive HTML wireframe and UI mockups. It has only the drag-and-drop interface. So it’s a reliable tool for a quick design of advanced click-through wireframes. It makes it easier to layout interfaces. Editing content and including interactivity to your product is simpler with Axure.

It’s also great for creating your app prototype. This is due to its library of extensive elements. These include shapes, buttons panels, widgets and many more. There are downloadable widget libraries that you can use for your project. Among these are iOS wireframes, retina widgets, and UI elements. All these are essential for iPhone, iPad, and Android libraries.

With Axure, a team of many members can work on the same project at once. This is due to its on-premise or cloud options. Users can access their files and create a team project. You can also upload your finished wireframe to your web server and download later. So you can test run it on your smartphone.

To track any change in projects, Axure employs a check-in and check-out system. So, if you’re looking to wireframe a sophisticated app with UI or UX designs, Axure is the tool to use.

6. Fluid

Fluid doesn’t stop at enabling users to create and share interactive wireframes. Users can communicate the interrelationships of the pages. They do this by adding links to it. It makes it possible to create wireframes of app screens, workflows, and diagrams. You can then create links where you’ll see how those pages come together. By hovering over those links, you can change the kind of transition.

Fluid has over 1,700 ready-made wireframe plus UI elements. These are often updated. So you have a lot of resources in this tool to get started fast. Device previews, live chat, and video calling support are the most-often used of these. This is because they make for real-time team communication. They’re also cool for design iteration.

So all these features make Fluid a great wireframe tool for mobile app builders.

7. Proto

This is another prototyping tool. Its main use is for building and deployment of an interactive mobile app prototype and simulations. These products will resemble finished apps and can run in most web browsers. They feature three main interfaces. These are the dashboard, editor, and web player.

From the dashboard interface, you can manage projects. The editor’s interface is where you can find the tools needed to build the prototype and interactions. The player interface is where you view and interact with the prototype. You can also find tools for annotating there.

8. Flair Builder

This app is also good for creating interactive wireframes. With the Flair Builder tool, you can begin with low-fidelity sketches and move to a high-fidelity wireframe. It takes a single click for this, it has over 70 built-in widgets and components. It also has an extensive stencil library like a few other tools. Using this tool, you will find it easy to preview work. You can also export the project to a functional HTML prototype.

Flair Builder will help you to read the structure of your wireframe and generate a sitemap. So you can view the page hierarchy with ease. It also has stencils for advanced Android and iOS support.

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