HOW TO DESIGN A MOBILE APP? THE IMPORTANCE OF WIREFRAMES AND MOCKUPS
83% of iPhone applications are deleted soon after being installed. The retention level for Android is also similar – even 90% of apps are abandoned quickly and almost 30% within 10 minutes after being downloaded1). Why? The most common reasons include the bad first impression – poor design and UX.
So what can you do to avoid losing your 30-second chance before a user deletes your app? First and foremost, don’t skip the prototyping stage in your app development process!
Learn how to get the most of wireframes and mockups with our guide.
WIREFRAMES VS MOCKUPS
Let’s begin with answering one basic question: what exactly are wireframes and mockups?
The wireframes are low-fidelity blueprints of a mobile application. They depict what goes where in design but only as a basic draft, without focusing on details, colors or shapes. All buttons, tabs and placeholders are already included, making it easy to imagine the final skeleton of the application. Each wireframe is also connected with others with a link so that a clicable prototype of an app architecture is created.
Wireframes are sometimes replaced with the term “mockups” although they are not exactly the same thing. While wireframes show the app architecture, mockups are more about the design layer. Their role is to show how the app’s visual elements will look like before you arrive to the final version of design. Therefore, mockups include such features as fonts, colors, or shapes which are not depicted on the wireframes.
WHAT DOES THE WIREFRAMES STAGE LOOK LIKE?
Wireframes and mockups can be named together as a prototype and prototyping is one of the most important in the whole development process.
In Ready4S we always begin the development process with the separate wireframes stage in which we discuss every feature thoroughly with our clients so that we can understand each other perfectly. This is the moment when our PMs create the whole structure of the application and present it to the client in a form of connected screens. Also our UX Designers work hard in this part of the process to design sketches which will fulfill both the client’s and end-users’ needs.
Mockups are the second very important part of an app prototype. At Ready4S they are included in the first iteration of development process and cover the visual layer of the app based on the functionalities designed in the wireframes stage. In this phase, the most important work is done by our UI Designers who make sure users will fall in love with your app at first sight.
WHY ARE WIREFRAMES SO IMPORTANT?
As an experienced software house, we sometimes meet a client who wants to skip the wireframes stage. The reason behind such a decision is usually connected with app costs – the wireframes takes some time to create and a client wants to save as many valuable hours as they can.
However, we usually don’t recommend skipping the wireframes. As we take app development process seriously, we always start with the wireframes phase and we don’t take any shortcuts here. Why?
Here are the most important reasons:
- App architecture visualisation
A picture is worth 1,000 words. With wireframes the whole app architecture is clear from the beginning.
- Usability pushed to the front
We can discuss the functionalities and structure without focusing on design details such as colors or fonts.
- Mutual understanding
Wireframes help to understand the whole app idea and correct possible misunderstandings quickly, allowing to avoid huge adjustments when the app is already coded.
- Helping to manage the process
When the whole app is discussed and all necessary features agreed, it is easy to divide the whole development process into iterations (two weeks time cycles).
- Time- and money-savings
A well-structured app is quicker to make and can save you a huge amount of money and nerves. Because of preparing the whole app “blueprint” early, you know exactly how the process will go and there will be no need of sudden changes and adjustments.
If you want to know why you should never develop an app without wireframes, check this case study.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF WIREFRAMES STAGE?
Wireframes phase gives you a lot of opportunities to plan your app. No wonder, a lot of clients appreciate it very much. We often hear opinions that wireframes it easier to imagine how the app will work and look. It can also help to adjust the app to its target market and the requirements of great User Experience.
Sometimes, this phase can also help to realise that there is something still missing in the app idea. Like in case of one of our clients, Josef Fico, who appreciated that wireframes let him to decide that his app idea needs more market research before moving on to the development phase.
How to make the most of wireframes stage? Following these rules will guide you through the process:
1. Communicate your thoughts
Your Project Manager will do his/her best to fully understand your idea. But if you think, there is a misunderstanding or a problem – tell him in advance. You will be able to adjust wireframes accordingly.
2. Don’t focus on design
Wireframes are more about the app workflow, not pretty pictures. So don’t worry – your app won’t look like the wireframes at the end. But the main structure will be kept, so that’s what you and your software house should discuss at this stage.
3. Think through app’s functionalities
That’s what the wireframing phase is all about and what it should help you in. So make a list of what you want your application to do and check whether all the necessary features are included in the wireframes.
4. Focus on your users
You may have your own sense of what is pretty and what’s not but if your users differ greatly from yourself, e.g. are kindergarden children, you have to design your app with them in mind.
5. Remember that you will only have one first impression
You might know every screen in your app perfectly but your app users have to learn everything from the beginning and are usually impatient so make their user experience as smooth as possible.
So, are you ready for developing your own app project? Fill in this form to get a free quote for your app idea.