Top mobile app development companies report: wireframes, the key to usability

by AppFutura on Mar 17, 2016 / App Development
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This week’s report is about wireframes and how creating good wireframes before developing a mobile app is crucial for the future usability of the application.

For this mobile app development report we have interviewed three of our best app development companies: Devodrome, Appinventiv and Relianttekk.

Let’s see how they explain what wireframes are:

Wireframe or screen blueprint or prototyping are the key elements of planning an application or a website. It separates the graphic elements of the product from the functional elements in such a way that the developers can easily explain how users will interact with the application.

Wireframes play a very important role during the mobile app development process as they focus on what the screen does and it also defines the structure of the process making it easier to understand. Wireframing also helps while creating a better UI and UX design.

Wireframes reduce the chances of major changes when the project is under development.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

A Wireframe is a visual guide that helps developers to easily craft and lay out all the crucial information hierarchy, draft a fluid design, manage screen position, and plan the entire application flow easily.

By using wireframes, developers easily understand the complex ideas and efficiently present them in a simple and comprehensible framework.

They are the skeletons of screens, thus, providing a structural and detailed look at the layout of a mobile app and usually take the form of simple line-sketches. It helps in keeping a record of developer’s thought on how the app screens should be laid out, including the labels, navigation and buttons.

DevodromeDevodromeMobile app development company in Romania

They are very important in building what the client envisioned. The wireframes are also saving a lot of time during the UI design.

Wireframe

Wireframes have 3 phases included in their development process: information design, navigation design and interface design. While the information design is the presentation of the app, the navigation design provides a set of screens so the client can envision how the mobile app will work.

The last phase, the interface design, is all about the usability and efficiency of the mobile app project. Our developers always apply this when developing their client’s mobile applications.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

This design element focuses on the very minute, yet crucial, aspects found on apps and web pages that helps in simplifying the user's behaviour.

Navigation design focuses on understanding how users will navigate from screen-to-screen and the connectivity between the links. Lack of right roadmap may result into bad user experience.

Information design is basically used to focus on creating the flawless communication of ideas and proper arrangement of content. It is highly useful in drafting the clear and concise presentation, thus helping in understanding what users may be looking for.

The relationship between these 3 modules is represented by the wireframes.

Information design reflects the goal and process of the mobile app.

Navigation design allows communication i.e. it allows the user to move from one screen to next screen.

Interface design enables the user to interact with the functionality of the mobile app.

DevodromeDevodromeMobile app development company in Romania

The wireframes should normally give clear and detailed information regarding the UI layout, flowchart (screen to screen navigation) and functionality. Although “a picture is worth a thousand words”, describing what is not obvious in terms of user interactions and/or processing would require further (written) clarifications.

When wireframing, mobile app development companies must follow different steps depending on how the project has evolved. Before wireframing, developers have to sit with the client and ask all the questions that may occur to them just to check both parts have understood the same about the mobile app funcionalities and goals.

Wireframing is a very creative process, arranging UI elements to improve the usability of the mobile app. And what better way to do that than sketching the screens and patterns?

Even though we live surrounded by technology, paper still exists in this phase. Pencils and papers will never disappear. Sketches are the base for the future wireframing and development of the app. We’ve asked our developers about what process they follow:

The process that Reliant Tekk follows while wireframing is: gathering information, determine design layout components, sketch the basic design, develop initial wireframe design, review/feedback, wireframe deployment.

DevodromeDevodromeMobile app development company in Romania

Depending on what the client already has regarding the project he wants to build, some (more or less) questions may be needed prior creating the wireframes.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

Sketching Always Comes Before Wireframing. One of the biggest advantages of sketching is that it enables expression of ideas, quickly and involve other to contribute to creating the better user experience. Along with wireframes, we create mind maps for each project. Mind maps help us analyse the entire flow and the centre focus of the app concept.

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But clients might be asking: how long does it take to wireframe my mobile app project? It depends a lot on the functionalities of the app, as well as the previous material provided by the client.

It is also important to know if the mobile app development company will provide the client with interactive wireframes (made with tools like Adobe® Fireworks), also the number of screens needed among other features.

To imagine any case scenario that may occur when using the app is key to create wireframes with all the possibilities the mobile app brings and all the scenarios that can happen.

DevodromeDevodromeMobile app development company in Romania

It mostly depends on the size and complexity of the project (e.g. the more screen the app gets, the more time is needed). For most projects, 15-30 hours would be enough for creating good wireframes (i.e. covering the entire app).

To create a fully featured and good wireframe which provides the best user experience of the application, the time taken really depends on the scale of the project.

To create wireframes equivalent to your idea and flow, first we need to review the complete project requirements or scope of the project then we move to the next stage i.e. to convert the ideas and the flow on a paper or on the wireframing tool.

If the process is perfect and if we are using wireframing tool to create interactive and clickable wireframes, then it will be generated in less time period. Ideal wireframing takes generally less than a week but it depends on the project scope.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

Remember, as its forgotten most of the times, wireframes are not the final designs.

How long does it take to create good wireframes? Well, that totally depends on a number of factors: number of screens, complexity of the mobile app, number of types of end users interfacing with the app etc.

If you have a whole day to put a bunch of screens together, then you can spend a day. And, if you have couple of hours, do it for a few hours.

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And once the wireframing is done, what comes next? Basically our mobile app developers focus on UI, UX and interface experience for each and every individual screen. It’s the moment to add widgets, images, labels, buttons and define the visual styling attending the needs of the brand and mobile app.

As Appinventiv has pointed out, wireframes are not the final designs. They are just the base to understand how the app works and will look like in general. So, after the client’s approval of the wireframes, the designers start their work.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

After wireframing the next step involved is to create visual graphics and design prototypes. We can use different design prototyping tools available (like Flinto, Invision,etc ). Design prototypes help the developers understand the flow and the transformations that need to be implemented during the development of the product.

DevodromeDevodromeMobile app development company in Romania

Creating the detailed functional specs document and development plan.

Once the blueprint for the product has been defined the next step is to create a visual style i.e. UI and UX design. The design plays a crucial role in the part of the process. When the designs get approved the next stage is development/coding. The further steps that follow are testing, product launch, and maintenance.

Is it very important to create wireframes of the apps? The answer differs among our developers:

DevodromeDevodromeMobile app development company in Romania

It depends on the information we initially got from the client and the size/complexity of the project. For example: a small project could be developed without wireframes.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

We actually avoid developing an app without wireframing. And, this practice has been extremely successful for us. Wireframiing really helps in putting forth the thought-process or the skeleton. This helps in soliciting feedback and giving a high level glimpse of how the app would look like or how the navigation will happen.

It helps in throughout the lifecycle of the development – analysis, prototyping, soliciting feedback, UX and desiging the flow and navigation.

Wireframing helps us bring out any disconnect or discrepancy or flaw very early in the cycle, and hence, helps prevent unnecessary iterations, efforts overshoot. Consequently, helping in keeping schedule in check, prevent from developing a flawed app.

We will not develop any project without wireframing because we never compromise our work quality and it is only possible when you start a work from zero. Wireframing is a method to define project scope in a creative manner where we can show the first visualization to our clients and once they approve, it gives confidence to designers to define correct UI/UX of any project.

In simple words, wireframes describe the functionality and if the position of elements is defined correctly this initial process ensures that we are on the right track or not.

Finally, our mobile app development companies want to tell us some tools that will help them during the wireframing (there are some traditional and some technological tools included):

There are a variety of tools that help developing wireframes. The most popular are Just in mind, Zeplin, Balsamiq, Omnigraffle, Marvel app and Axure. These tools allow designers to easily outline and organize content in an efficient manner.

AppInventivAppInventivMobile app development company in India

There are various tools for wireframing that provide an environment for quickly enhancing and customizing common interface elements that help in providing a visual lift. Here are a few tools to choose from for hammering out the user experience: mind-mapping software (like Mind Maple), prototyping software (like Balsamiq , Axure) and hand sketching on paper.

justinmind

Here we have made a list of other 5 important tools to develop wireframes easily for mobile app development companies:

  • WireFrame.cc: wireframing with a click and drag to draw interface with browsers and mobile phones templates.
  • Framer: an open source prototypin with instant feedback.
  • Mockups.me: collaborative and interactive wireframes for tablets, desktop and browsers projects.
  • Proto: for mobile apps, fully interactive with the resemblance of a finished product.
  • iPlotz: this tool works for wireframing mobile apps and websites. Developers can add links to the screen.

If you have a project to develop now that you know more about wireframes, post it, go ahead. On the other hand, if you are a mobile app development company and think you can give us more information about wireframes or want to join our platform, welcome on board!

You can also hire these top mobile app development companies from our directory.

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