Why are some websites and mobile applications better than others? How do developers figure out which layouts will guarantee customer satisfaction? The answer to this is simple- robust wireframe development. At Stoke Ventures, we help clients build attractive, reliable and functional websites. We are experts in wireframe development and pay attention to the finest detail, leveraging the best tools of the trade and highly skilled product development teams.
What is wireframe development, and why does it matter to our business and clients? This article discusses the relevance of wireframe design and ways to integrate different user flows and navigation tools to ensure the final products are devoid of usability issues.
This article is also a guide to help junior developers and innovators in their quest to create life-changing software products that enhance user experiences and contribute to streamlined workflows. In the end, we discuss the benefits of wireframe development, types of wireframes and tips for optimizing wireframe development.
What is Wireframe Development
Before a developer commits to writing code for a website or an application, they need to understand how the end product will appear. They need to plan for every visual element that will dictate how the target customer interacts with a product or service of a particular company. It takes time to design and organize the interactive elements of your favorite website, mobile application or desktop app.
Wireframes are crucial for visualizing software products
Wireframe development refers to the detailed organization of interactive elements of a website or app. It includes navigation buttons, order of pages, commands and other relevant graphic content. In wireframe design, the developer explores how the visual elements complement the information architecture, structure of the website and hierarchy of commands.
Therefore, when one mentions wireframe development, the first thing that should come to your mind is the individual is busy optimizing page or app structures and iterating different visual designs so that the end-users can seamlessly utilize digital products. It is a planning stage that a seasoned web or app developer must complete before they code. Otherwise, they create unstable, unreliable or faulty products with several usability challenges.
Wireframe development is iterative, and some products require real-time interaction between the designer and the client. The collaborative design approach seeks to eliminate bias in product development and ensure that everyone’s views and preferences are included in the final design. At the end of the process, the developer has a comprehensive idea about the appearance and interaction of different interactive elements of the site or applications.
Wireframing allows the developers to plan subsequent design and coding work. At the end of the process, they have a brief visualization of the critical features that contribute to the functionality and usability of particular products. Therefore, they can leverage wireframe development results and insights to prioritize upcoming product development tasks.
A wireframe will showcase:
- All active elements to be displayed on the user interface (UI)
- Organization of diverse UI elements
- The interactivity of the UI
A wireframe may not be as detailed as a mockup. However, it is a vital design component that helps product developers to transition from ideation and conceptualization to implementation, coding and prototyping.
Why Wireframe Development Is Important
As a beginner, it is easy to disregard wireframe development. The enthusiasm to deliver a functional product may have you considering this phase a waste of time. Perhaps, a drag that will delay the delivery of the project. After all, no one wants to remain behind as the rest of the world launches impressive products daily.
Wireframes are beneficial as they allow developers to communicate app or web structures simply and cheaply. The phase strengthens team collaboration since individuals with different experiences offer their expertise depending on past experiences and highlight some pros and cons associated with particular wireframe designs.
A wireframe is a blueprint that defines the path for the entire project. It provides an effective way for us as a design agency to clarify technical details and evaluate the viability of different concepts to meet user needs. The bottom line; ensuring we proceed to code and actualize product concepts with high success rates.
Web and mobile app development are dynamic. It implies that developers encounter varying market trends daily. It requires the development team to research different user flows, design patterns and productivity tools to efficiently address user needs and meet their expectations at every product development stage.
Broadly, wireframe development allows individual innovators and design agencies like Stoke Ventures to:
- Focus on optimizing user experiences beyond attractive user interfaces
- Communicate the interactivity of app or website elements
Types of Wireframes
We serve a diversified client base and handle software development projects from clients globally. Our team manages complex design problems.
Stoke Ventures has a wireframe development solution for virtually all kinds of software products, web applications or mobile apps. It is these differences that make the product development process worthwhile.
Depending on the level of detail required before coding and implementing product concepts, we develop the following types of wireframes:
- Low-fidelity wireframes
- Mid-fidelity wireframes
- High-fidelity wireframes
In some projects, we use storyboards to map user journeys as they interact with the desired end products. They are crucial when the project is focused on a reliable UX design and information architecture.
These are low-quality graphical representations showing how websites and applications will appear once developed. Usually, these prototypes are sketched by hand on paper or cardboard. They can also be designed on digital platforms. One thing defining these wireframes is their lack of detail. The rough sketches do not describe the sizes of elements on the screen, image quality or accuracy of grids.
Simple wireframe drafted on paper
Low-fidelity prototypes are a great starting point for teams to filter design components. A sketch will get the developers talking. Is this the right product for us to develop? What additional features should we consider in the final product? Is there a connection between the interactive elements?
Why will our teams at Stoke Ventures opt for low-fidelity wireframes? The decision to kickstart concept development using low-fidelity prototypes is arrived at if our developers have several potential options on the table. At this stage, we want everyone to communicate their proof of concept. The discussions can begin when everyone in the team understands how other members visualize the software product.
Mid-fidelity wireframes contain more detailed information than their low-fidelity counterparts. The graphical design in this category represents the website wireframe more clearly. The layouts are detailed and developers can differentiate on-screen components.
The grids are visible, and the features are more detailed. The wireframes specify the elements. Mid-fidelity wireframes can be designed using manual and digital tools. Although the layout is detailed, some of these wireframes may not entirely describe features like font sizes, font types, quality of images and other components.
One popular tool for creating mid-fidelity wireframes is Sketch. It allows product developers to tweak conceptual designs such as that of a standard mobile app wireframe to showcase the possibilities of new products.
High-fidelity wireframes are detailed visual representations of the desired final product. We develop high-fidelity wireframes when clients wish to receive the finest details of the end product. In this case, the designers specify the sizes of elements on the screen. They provide information about the pixel quality of images and their exact locations on the screen. Sometimes, we offer consultancy to other design teams. These layouts can act as UX wireframes to guide developers through their user experience journeys.
High-fidelity wireframes are critical for showcasing complex app or web details like drop-down menus, interactive buttons and other hidden app features. The design of these wireframes requires the use of advanced product development tools. If you come across the term Figma wireframes, there is a high probability the developer in question is handling a high-fidelity wireframe.
Who Uses Wireframes And What Tools Do They Utilize
Wireframe development can potentially change the direction and perception of software product development. One can easily assume that wireframes are beneficial to skilled developers only. That is a false impression. Wireframes are used to communicate concepts to different groups of people. They include:
Some individuals manage several projects and product development teams at once. The managers coordinate in-house operations and update stakeholders on the progress of the software projects. These managers use wireframes to track progress and evaluate whether the user preferences and feedback are incorporated in subsequent wireframe iterations.
Clients provide a brief problem statement to product development agencies. Their problem statements are informed by predominant workflow bottlenecks or the shortcomings of existing products. Clients leverage wireframes to judge if the ongoing product development work promises to fill the existing market gaps. The client evaluates if:
- The user interfaces miss some elements
- UI elements are well-organized
- Available commands address workflow challenges
Designers and Software Developers
These individuals convert conceptual ideas into working software products.
Wireframes are sketchy representations of the end products. The designers leverage these wireframes as blueprints to optimize UI/UX designs.
Product development teams have access to several tools to enhance wireframe development. Modern wireframing tools contain in-built features that expedite the creation of a website and mobile app features like forms, interactive buttons and pages. One popular tool among product developers is Sketch. The software is vital for creating mid-fidelity wireframes. Developers can also create high-fidelity wireframes using Figma or Balsamiq.
We utilize several tools to ensure we deliver quality wireframes to our clients and stakeholders.
Example of a high-fidelity mobile app wireframe
Differentiating Web and Mobile App Wireframes
At Stoke Ventures, we develop websites and mobile wireframes. The designs for both categories of products vary. As an agency, we think through scenarios before initiating the wireframe development process. Some applications must be compatible with mobile and desktop devices. Some factors we consider when designing wireframes are:
Websites can hold plenty of information. Their layouts allow developers to organize diverse information in several columns. Additionally, it is possible to cascade several pages at once. When handling mobile applications, the development team is limited by the fact that mobile layouts permit the organization of information in one or two columns. It implies that web wireframes are likely to be more detailed than mobile app wireframes. We need to ensure all the requisite elements are captured on the wireframe without compromising the quality and usability of the product.
There are different ways to navigate websites and mobile apps. The navigation style affects the behavior of the app. Therefore, when designing wireframes, we must understand how various platforms behave and suggest design elements accordingly. For instance, users can access web pages by clicking on active elements on the screen. In this case, the command is executed by hovering the mouse or trackpad on the page. To reveal information on mobile apps, the user must tap particular buttons.
Utilizing mobile apps and websites for productivity does not mean users have to be connected to the internet to access information and perform tasks. Some users prefer accessing information offline. Our teams carefully evaluate user preferences to optimize app interactivity and performance.
Tips For Effective Wireframe Development
We have handled several software products in the past. As an agency, we have experienced challenges that have shaped our approaches to wireframe development. Here are a few wireframing tips a green or experienced software developer can utilize to ensure they transition seamlessly from concept generation to actualization.
Use simple wireframe designs
Wireframes are vital feedback collection tools. They are not the final products. Often, product developers spend a lot of time trying to perfect wireframe designs. Some designers prefer including every element of the application or website in the wireframe. While this may be necessary in some cases, it is not mandatory. Use a simple design that will enable the product development teams to create a blueprint that guides them in subsequent design activities.
Complicating wireframe designs can result in disruptions. The developer becomes invested in the feel and look of the website or application and forgets other features contributing to the overall functionality and usability of the product.
Collect feedback to improve the quality of wireframes
Collect sufficient feedback
Wireframe development enables design agencies to identify and rectify usability issues early enough. The product development team needs to involve peers or a representative sample of the end users in the wireframe development process. These individuals provide feedback based on their first-hand experiences with the proposed product layouts and user interfaces.
The designer should establish measures for integrating feedback to wireframe iterations. Incorporating feedback ensures that the final product reflects the preferences of the target audiences.
Sharing wireframes and concepts with other individuals outside the design team is a good way to attract diverse perspectives about software products. Someone else may notice an issue with an app or website that the entire design team has overlooked or disregarded.
Experiment with different ideas
As we have mentioned, wireframe development is a crucial part of the entire journey. Some conceptual designs are bound to receive negative criticism. At this stage, the development team can experiment with different layouts. They should develop several alternatives for the same product. Iterating wireframes allows development teams to improve wireframe versions and develop wholesome solutions.
Although product developers have the freedom to experiment with ideas, they should be cautious not to lose sight of the price. They do this by defining user journeys and creating user personas to ensure they understand target audiences better.
Product development teams handle complex workflows. Sometimes it may prove difficult for the developers to visualize complicated software products. When faced with such challenges, the development team should consider using storyboards. These are uniquely organized wireframe collections that represent different components of the system.
Finally, the developers should understand when to end the wireframe development journey. The process is complete if the product development team has collected and communicated all the necessary information and the team proves that an idea is implementable, usable and relevant for the target market segment.
The key to a successful website and mobile app design is comprehensive planning and design process. To create delightful products, we leverage previous experiences, best practices, and data and utilize the best tools to ensure every element is functional. At Stoke Ventures, we listen to our clients, visualize how to meet their needs effectively and enhance their user experiences. We are the one-stop shop that will help you navigate the complex software development process.
Part of our planning activities includes wireframing to visualize web layouts, mobile app feature organization and prototyping to validate product usability and functionality.
Wireframe development is a straightforward process if you have access to the right set of tools and data. In the early stages, a wireframe drafted on a piece of paper can communicate the broader details of the upcoming project. In the later stages, it may be necessary to utilize software packages to automate the process.
Reach out to our team and let us handle your wireframe development needs. Let us worry about the technical aspects of the project – while you sit and wait for us to deliver a reliable, responsive and functional website or mobile application to improve business productivity and profitability.