Entrepreneurs guide to outsourcing mobile app wireframing

Read this guide to learn essential wireframing concepts
4 minute read
Edward Kost @EdwardKost
Technical Co-pilot
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Wireframing your mobile app


The wireframing of a mobile app conceptualizes your app idea. If done well, you'll win over skeptics and investors. If done poorly, you'll waste both your time and your money.

What is a mobile app wireframe?

A mobile app wireframe is the skeletal structure of your mobile app. The primary goal of a mobile wireframe is to represent the functionality of an app rather what the app will look like.

The ideal mobile wireframe should be as visually basic as possible in order to keep you focused solely on perfecting the user journey. Once the user journey (or UX flow) is finalized, you can move on to designing the individual elements of the mobile app (also known as a mockup).

When should you create a mobile app wireframe?

This should ideally be completed as early as possible. It's absolutely essential for a mobile app wireframe to be completed BEFORE developing the app. Coding a mobile app before creating a wireframe is like building a skyscraper without a blueprint. You're building without a solid North star metric.

To help you help you understand where wireframing fits in the mobile app development process, have a look at the following diagram:

 mobile app development workflow

The term "mock-up" is usually incorrectly used to reference a mobile app wireframe, but there are actually two distinct stages of the development process. A "mock-up" transforms the basic mobile app wireframe into a vivid visual representation of the end product. It's important your designer understands the difference between a "mock-up" and a "wireframe"

You don't necessarily need to hire a mobile app developer to create your mobile app wireframe. No coding is required to create the wireframe or mockup, so a graphic designer is usually your best bet. That being said, some mobile app developers are also very capable of designing wireframes and mock-ups.

Let's give a brief overview of each of the mobile app development process.

Sketch 

The sketch is a simple box workflow diagram demonstrating the core performance of the app. You should sketch this yourself and provide it to your mobile app wireframe designer as a reference

Here's an example sketch of a food delivery app workflow

 

Source: uxplanet.org

 


The sketch outlines the series of steps a user has to take to achieve your intended end goal, which in this case is ordering food.

Mobile app wireframe 

After handing over your sketch to your designer, they'll evolve it into a mobile app wireframe. You should specify the mobile device screen sizes you want your wireframe constrained to.

Below is an example of a wireframe design of a mobile app home screen. As you can see, the clickable elements aren't meant to be visually appealing. It's their placement relative to the other elements that matters at this stage.

mobile app wireframe

Source: uxplanet.org

A mobile wireframe should be designed for a variety of Apple and Android mobile screen sizes to give you a sense of how each element will look at different resolutions.

Notice how the thicker framing of smaller mobile devices makes the mobile app seem slightly more dense and cluttered. This perspective will help you design your mobile app to be less confusing to navigate on smaller devices.

mobile app wireframe sizing

Source: uxplanet.org

Ideally your designer should create a mid-fidelity wireframe. A mid-fidelity wireframe includes clickable elements that link wireframes together in order to give you a firsthand sense of how the prospective application will operate. This isn't a mandatory wireframe requirement. Usually static workflow diagrams will work.

Below is an example of a simple mobile wireframe workflow between a functional sequence. If this was a mid-fidelity design it would update any time a user took an action like clicking or swiping.

 

mobile app wireframe workflow

Source: uxplanet.org

Mockup

At the mockup stage, your designer brings your mobile app wireframe to life by implementing its intended visual features.

Your mobile app wireframe designer should also be capable of creating a mock-up for you.

Ideally a mock-up should allow you to test out all of the intended gestures you want your users to make (swiping, clicking, expanding etc).

The mock-up stage should be the point you start focusing on user experience (UX) in greater detail. For the best results, your mobile app mock-up designer should implement UX best practices such as design familiarity.

The user journey is a lot more streamlined if it's guided by elements and processes that are familiar to the users (such as the common add-to-cart sequence).

Here are a couple of mobile app mock-up examples.

mobile app mockup

Mobile app mockup by one of our freelancers

mobile app mockup

Mobile app mockup by one of our freelancers.

The above samples don't demonstrate the step-by-step workflow of the app. They're meant to give an idea of the mobile app's visual aesthetic.

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Mobile app prototype 

This is the final stage of the mobile app development lifecycle. At this stage all of your design and workflow iterations are coded into an operational app.

If any major operational app changes need to be implemented, you can just move in the other direction of the development workflow and adjust the mock-up or wireframe (if it's a complete restructuring of the app).

Your app developer should always work off wireframes and mock-ups when developing your app, so make sure these changes are made at their specific stages before they're  implemented in the code.

mobile app development workflow

Outsource your mobile app wireframing with confidence

By following the above criteria you can make sure the talent you outsource your mobile app wireframing project is capable of delivering a high standard of work.

Whether you are looking for a mobile app wireframe designer, mockup designer or developer, we have talented freelancers that can get the job done for you at a world class standard.

Your mobile app isn't going to design itself, get started today!

 

 

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