How to Create a Mobile App Wireframe

Wireframing is a crucial step in the mobile app development process. It helps provide a clear vision for stakeholders, development teams, designers, and everyone else associated with the project.

An app wireframe is a backbone for creating a successful design and building an app that users will love.

This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about app wireframes, including how to make an app wireframe and best practices to follow.

What is a Mobile App Wireframe?

An app wireframe is a two-dimensional blueprint and visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a mobile application. 

The wireframe stage takes place early on in the product life cycle before any actual development or design begins. This initial stage of an app project helps demonstrate how the app will work and what it will look like.

Wireframes should visually illustrate different steps in the user journey as a way to identify potential pain points before the dev team starts building. It should include all of your page elements, navigation screens, content, and main objectives. 

An app wireframe gets everyone on the same page, so the team knows what they’re building, and stakeholders know what to expect as the final product. 

Wireframes do not include any colors, stylized graphics, images, logos, fonts, or mobile app design elements. They’re simply early sketches that show how the app will be used.

You can think of a wireframe as the blueprint of a house. It contains all of the rooms, doors, windows, electrical infrastructure, and plumbing but does not include any furniture or decorations.

Why Are Mobile App Wireframes Important?

App wireframes are a crucial part of the mobile app development and design process.

Wireframing helps provide a clear picture of how end-users will interact with your app. If you can’t explain how your app idea solves the problems of your customers, then you might need to go back to the drawing board. 

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so important to create an app wireframe.

Visual Blueprint of the App

Having an idea is great, and having a good idea is even better. But even the best ideas are useless if you don’t have a clear plan and vision.

Verbally conveying your idea to a development team and assuming they’re going to deliver what you want is unrealistic. 

But a wireframe gets your point across and makes it easier to share your vision with project teams, investors, and stakeholders.

You can’t think about funding, user testing, or other business-related decisions without a wireframe. Putting these ideas into a wireframe first will make your life much easier. 

Faster Iterations

An app wireframe helps simplify an otherwise large or intimidating development process. Breaking your project into smaller, attainable tasks is a much easier way to achieve success. 

The great part about building a wireframe is that it doesn’t take a ton of time. This helps you build momentum and get the ball rolling as you’re assembling your team, giving presentations, and pitching investors. 

Executing these iterations in the early stages of development is much easier, and you can continue building on these steps. 

Avoid Mistakes

Your app wireframe should lay out the different screen functions. 

It helps you determine where certain app features should be placed and if there’s enough room on the screen to accommodate those functions. 

An app wireframe helps you establish a hierarchy of elements before you implement the design. It’s much easier to do this on paper than after you’ve committed any code. 

Mistakes here are really easy to fix. But fixing mistakes post-development is much more challenging.

Saves Time and Money

As previously mentioned, an app wireframe helps you identify potential flaws and pain points before anything has been coded. This saves you a ton of time and money on development costs. 

Wireframes also provide your developers and designers with a clear picture of what they’re building. So starting with a wireframe can actually speed up the development process and shorten your overall timeline. 

Even things like content creation will be streamlined since the structure of your app’s screens has already been organized. Content creators and designers won’t have to ask any questions about where certain elements should be placed.

An app wireframe makes it easier to estimate costs as well. For example, if you’re outsourcing a UX/UI design team, they’ll likely provide you with a more accurate estimate since they know exactly what you’re looking for. So the chances of running over budget are reduced.

How to Wireframe Mobile Apps in 5 Simple Steps

Creating a wireframe is easy when you follow the step-by-step guide below:

  1. Map Out the App’s User Flow
  2. Organize the Mobile App Content
  3. Determine the Layout
  4. Create a Detailed Wireframe
  5. Integrate the Design Elements

Step #1 — Map Out the App’s User Flow

User flows are the backbone of wireframes for mobile applications. 

A user flow is a visual guide that showcases the series of actions a user must take to reach a specific goal. Not all user flows are linear—meaning there might be multiple paths to achieve a goal within your app.  

You can start creating a user flow by sketching your idea on a piece of paper. Eventually, you can take this sketch to the next level with a digital version of the flow.

Remember, an app wireframe does not contain design elements just yet. So you can use simple rectangle boxes as image placeholders with arrows to showcase the flow. 

You can start to think about dropdown menus or the bottom tab bar of each screen, but these won’t necessarily be included in the early sketches of UX flows. 

After you’ve visualized the flow, you can share your early concepts with others. This allows you to get feedback from your team and other people. It forces you to create each screen with a clear purpose for achieving the end goal.

If a screen does not help a user do something related to the app’s purpose, then it can be removed from the flow. 

For example, let’s say you’re designing a food delivery app. The app’s goal is to get food in the hands of users who can order from different restaurants. 

After selecting a restaurant, should the user be brought to an “Our Story” screen for that particular establishment? No. That would disrupt the flow of ordering. 

These are the types of things you need to take into consideration when you’re going through this process. 

Step #2 — Organize the Mobile App Content

Now that you have a clear vision of your wireframe design, you can start to think about the actual copy and content that you’ll use in the app. 

What is going to appear on different mobile screens? How will that content integrate with the user flow?

Using a simple spreadsheet or reusable content blocks is an effective way to organize your content. You can start to list things like headers, images, links, and anything else that will appear in your mobile frame.

For example, let’s say you’re creating a fitness app to expand your personal training business. You could put together a spreadsheet with your main app content that includes training videos, meal prep instructions, and fitness guides. 

Then you could organize that content even further by segmenting cardio exercises from weight lifting. Within a weight lifting category, you can have sub-segments for arms, legs, back, etc. 

It’s much easier to organize your content now, as opposed to later on when you’re mapping out the screen layouts. You can refer to your content list as you plug things in during the next steps.

Step #3 — Determine the Layout

Next, you can establish the visual hierarchy and interface elements of your key screens. This will eventually set up the interaction design. 

Your app layout is essentially a combination of the first two steps we’ve already gone through. You’re going to take the content from step two and integrate it with the user flows in step one. 

You can still use basic shapes and tab bar placeholders instead of using any actual copy. But you can eliminate at least some of the placeholder text or screens with headers.

For example, your home screen layout might initially include Lorem ipsum placeholder text. Now you can get rid of those placeholder headers and add the main headers from your content list. 

You can establish the hierarchy of screen elements using size as a point of reference. 

Larger buttons, text, and CTAs are more important than smaller text located at the bottom of the screen. You can play around with different variations of the screen layouts as you’re going through this process. 

I strongly recommend using easily recognizable design patterns when you’re thinking about the screen layouts. 

For example, let’s say you’re going to include a bottom tab bar navigation on each screen of your app that includes the app’s most important screens. Having a house icon for a home screen makes more sense than a random shape or icon. This is something that users are already familiar with, and they understand exactly where that button is going to take them. A smiley face icon is not appropriate for your settings page. 

Look at the example above. You know exactly where the home button and settings button are, even without any text on the page.

Similarly, these icons would not fit in the middle of the screen, but they make sense placed at the bottom navigation. 

These are the types of things you’ll have to consider when you’re mapping out the screen layouts. 

Step #4 — Create a Detailed Wireframe

Detailed wireframes go beyond a basic sketch or hand-written notes. They are often high-fidelity versions of what your app will look like, including ready-made templates for your screens. 

You don’t have to put in real images, videos, or anything like that just yet. But the wireframes should be digitalized and include the real spacing between buttons and content. 

A detailed wireframe does not need to include any logos, custom fonts, or specialty UI elements. But they are a bit more formal for sharing with stakeholders and other team members. To make something stand out, you can use bold text, sizing, or spacing. 

As you can see, there is still some Lorem ipsum placeholder text in the author bio section of that particular screen. But the sign-up screen has been replaced with the actual text.

The screen in the middle of this example shows how different book topics will be displayed on the screen, but it doesn’t actually go into detail about the genres. 

Step #5 — Integrate the Design Elements

Technically, design elements are not part of the actual process for wireframing. Design is a completely different stage in the development process. 

However, wireframing and design are so closely related that it makes sense to start thinking about it now. 

If the design isn’t your strength, you can consult with multiple designers to show you different design patterns and ideas. 

The responsive design development stages and other design elements will be implemented later on, but you can still add some of them now, depending on your goals. 

For example, let’s say you need to raise money to fund your app. Pitching the app to investors is probably better if the wireframe includes more than just black and white placeholder text. Even some design elements can make the wireframe a bit more visually appealing.

IOS VS ANDROID DEVELOPMENT – WHICH IS BETTER?

Creating a mobile app is a practical approach to expanding an existing business. In addition, this is a chance to increase client loyalty by allowing them to use your services on their smartphone or tablet.

Starting an app begins with a concept or solution to a specific problem and selects an operating system for app development.

On the market now, iOS and Android are the only two solutions worth considering.

Let’s find out which one you prefer: IOS or Android development?

Android vs iOS

Unlike in the past, when there were multiple possibilities, iOS and Android are currently the only platforms worth considering. When combined, they account for about 100% of the mobile market.

According to the most recent statistics, Android and iOS control about 97% of the worldwide smartphone industry. As a result, you should develop and deploy your software simultaneously on both platforms, as there is no reason to explore the third platform.

Unfortunately, due to time, resources, and money restrictions, this strategy may not be feasible. As a result, many entrepreneurs and businesses must consider the advantages and disadvantages of Android vs. iOS apps and launch on one platform first before moving on to the other. There are obvious distinctions between the two platforms.

According to some estimates, Android development costs 30% more than iOS development owing to the difficulties of building code that runs on a broad range of devices and screen sizes. In addition, according to one research, more than half of all Android users have an older smartphone than two years. Do you know the latest Android app development trends?

Aspects to consider while selecting a mobile operating system

When deciding between Android and iPhone app development, these are the significant considerations to consider.

They are as follows:

The availability and cost of talent

There isn’t much of a price difference between developing an iOS app and an Android app. Apps for Android written in Java are the most popular programming language on the market today, whereas Objective-C or Swift is used for iOS apps. Employing Objective-C professionals might be up to 15% more expensive compared to other programming languages. However, they only have to write for one system, i.e., iOS, and can often complete development 30-40% faster than Android developers; thus, the expenses are balanced.

Android developers must produce apps that function on various devices, whereas iOS developers are only responsible for Apple products. It’s helpful to know that Android development might take longer in terms of money and schedule.

Target audience

The percentage of your target audience who owns a smartphone must be taken into consideration when deciding between Android and iOS app development. Next, look at demographic data like age, income, and gender to gain a clear picture of your target population. This is a convincing reason to choose iOS over the others if you discover that your target market favors this platform over the others. First, you need to know how many smartphones your target audience owns and which platforms they prefer to use. 

Process of costing and reviewing

It’s helpful to be aware that getting an iOS app authorized for the App Store takes longer due to Apple’s more demanding review procedure. Unlike Android applications, which are often authorized within a day or two, iOS apps must follow a tight set of criteria.

These are some of them:

● Developed with Xcode 10.2.

● Being evaluated based on a set of technical, content, and design criteria

● Updated to be compatible with the most recent operating system

● Thoroughly tested and updated to work with the most recent devices.

While some developers’ app proposals are accepted within a few hours, there are numerous review horror stories of app submissions being stalled for weeks or even months. It’s crucial to remember that, regardless of how difficult App Store submissions maybe, if your market research suggests that your target market prefers iOS devices, this is the platform you should create first.

Monetization

The last thing to think about is your monetization plan or generating money from the app. Despite accounting for more than 75% of all worldwide app downloads, Google Play made around 88 percent less income than Apple’s app store last year (2018). This implies that selling an app via a subscription model or in-app purchases is more profitable if you create it for iOS. Ad-based monetization tactics, on the other hand, have a higher success rate in Android apps. Android developers are also growing better at driving customer spending, according to the data. Year over year, expenditure in the Google Play Store increased by 27.3 percent in 2018. Â Let’s analyze the difference between PWA and native apps.

HOW DO AVOID APP STORE REJECTION FOR APPS WITH USER-GENERATED CONTENT?

Creating an app is not easy. You might have worked on it for weeks or even months to get a version that you (or your clients) are happy with. However, this is only half the work, and the rest is concerned with getting your app live and running on the App Store.

Once you submit your app for reviews, it takes about 24-48 hrs for you to get a response from the App Store’s review team. Apple is infamous for its closed ecosystem and tight control. Any deviations from their app guidelines will warrant immediate rejection. The whole process is even more rigorous for apps that accept user-generated content.

What if Apple rejects your app?

The first thing to do is go through the rejection email carefully. Usually, the App Store team gives a detailed description of what has gone wrong. 

For example, Suppose you violated section 1.2 of App store guidelines which deal with User-Generated content. In that case, this is the typical response mail you will receive:

Your app enables user-generated content but does not have the required precautions in place.

Next Steps

Please revise your app to implement all of the following precautions:

  • Require that users agree to terms (EULA). These terms must make it clear that there is no tolerance for objectionable content.
  • Have a method for filtering objectionable content.
  • Have a mechanism for users to flag objectionable content.
  • Have the ability to block abusive users from the service.
  • The developer must act on objectionable content reports within 24 hours by removing the content and ejecting the user who provided the offending content.

From this message, it is clear that your app was rejected for not providing enough features for users to control what they wish to see inside the app. Start building the solution from here.

Whatever be the reason for your rejection, the great thing about App Store is that it has a vast developer community, and most issues are well-documented. So even if you don’t get your answer from the email, there are multiple forums, guides, or agencies that can help.

Remember, the benefits of having a mobile app for your business far outweigh any minor inconveniences you might have during its development. So stick to it.

Why are ‘special guidelines’ for user-generated content required?

Consider you are a team of 5 people managing a social media app with 10,000 active users. Each user, on average, shares one post a day in the form of either text, image, or video. That’s about 10,000 content pieces in 3 different formats that your team has to go through every day to find out if they are within the App Store guidelines! 

Now think about the case where you have a flag/report button on each content. Regulating your app becomes much easier with users actively participating in removing anything that doesn’t fit their taste (and your policies in the process). You can even prioritize the user reports- content that receives the most flags in a specific timeframe requiring the greatest attention and vice versa.  

This level of app self-cleansing is why the App Store ‘Special Guidelines’ exist. It prevents the proliferation of offensive content like pornography, objectification, threats, and bullying. 

How do you prevent UGC Appstore rejection?

If this is your first time creating an app with User-Generated content, keeping in mind these 7 points will drastically reduce any chance of the App Store rejecting it:

1. Written policy against objectionable content in T&C

It is essential to inform your new users about the app’s policies regarding user-generated content well in advance. Adding a section about this in the terms and conditions is the best way to go about it. No new user should be allowed to sign up without accepting your app’s T&C.

Your App’s T&C should elaborate on the following two points in much detail:

  • Respecting other’s rights: Dealing with privacy, IP, copyrights, spam, bullying, harassment, and defamation
  • Safety: 3rd party apps, external linking, use of bots and crawlers, soliciting login information, and similar infringements

2. Providing a flag or report button for objectionable content

The App Store requires you to provide a mechanism where users can flag or report objectionable content. There will be a 24 hr window before which you need to review the content and take appropriate action.

If the content is deemed inappropriate, you must remove it and warn or suspend the violating user, depending on severity. 

3. Provision to filter objectionable content

It is also good practice to allow users to hide content and users they don’t want to see. Providing a simple ‘hide this content’ or ‘Do not show me again’ button should do the trick. These allow users not to see certain content which might not otherwise warrant a report or a block. These also reduce considerable strain on you or your moderators by reducing the number of false reports.

Explore Al-based content filtering systems for prominent apps with a large user base. These includes:

  • Using AI-bot to scan text-based content to find banned words
  • Using speech recognition software to detect hate speech in podcasts or videos 
  • Photo filtering to find potentially objectionable images

4. Provision to block or report user

Similar to content, there must also be a provision for users to block or report other users. Moderators must then check the offending user’s profile for guideline violations and temporarily or permanently ban the user if required.

5. Add contact information

The Appstore’s UGC guidelines state that your app should have your official business contact information or support information so that people can easily reach you. A simple contact form will suffice for all intents and purposes, but you can go a step further by adding a help center on your app. This page will contain the most common issues and FAQs, apart from contact details.

6. NSFW content

‘Incidental mature’ content is permitted on the App Store as long as they come from a ‘web-based service’. This is why 9GAG is allowed to host an ‘NSFW’ section in their app. Such content should be hidden by default and only be allowed to turn on from the app’s website.

7. Other General guidelines you should know about

Apart from the above-mentioned specific guidelines for apps with UGC content, there are also a few general guidelines that you must keep in mind before submitting your app for review:

  • Proper age-rating 
  • No inappropriate content
  • Shouldn’t imitate or copy another app
  • Have a strong Privacy policy 
  • Have transparency in user data usage
  • It should be stable without bugs and crashes
  • Remove any broken links or dummy content
  • Compatibility across various devices and iOS versions
  • Shouldn’t have any private API
  • The app should not be slow
  • Accurate and up-to-date meta information