Creating a Mobile App Prototyping: Sketch, Mockup and Wireframe

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Adamo Digital Co., Ltd
  • Date Published
  • Categories Blog
  • Reading Time 5-Minute Read

Mobile app development starts with Prototyping. If you have a good initiative with sketch, wireframe, mockup, you will have a smooth development process.

There are many important activities in mobile app development such as coding, building, debugging and launching. However, a small problem in the brainstorming process can lead to failures in several stages. Thus, it’s necessary to get your idea clearly of the app’s goals and know the way to pursue them. If you have a good start with sketch, wireframe, mockup, and prototype, you will start the software development process easier and safer.

What Is a Mobile App Prototype?

An app prototype is a working and interactive model of the end product. The prototype process brings ideas to life and transforms a creative vision into a reality to align the customers’ needs with the goals of an organization. In another way, a mobile app prototype is a sketched version of the app. A prototype includes clickable buttons, hyperlinks, and components that would be in the real app, but it doesn’t have a code.

Generally, designers take responsibility for creating the UX/UI Design prototype. They research the user’s behavior, form roadmaps and visualize the software interfaces. In the prototype creation process, they also build effective layouts and dashboards to provide users conveniently designed software functions. To handle this, a UX/UI designer must understand content marketing and lead generation funnel principles.

How to Create an App Prototype

A prototype design goes through three steps:

  • Sketch mobile prototyping: Drawing a basic concept
  • Mobile app Wireframe design: Refining the concept further
  • Mobile app Mockup design: Creating visual graphics and content

When mockup is approved, you can move to the prototype part which represents a detailed visualization of your app.

A wireframe is an advanced version of a sketch. A mockup is an advanced version of a wireframe. Among the three, a mockup design resembles the finished app the most.

Sketch Mobile Prototyping

The sketch is a quick paper draft or table draft of an idea in the brainstorming process. You need to save every idea as fast as possible before they run out of your mind, so freehand drawing is the quickest way. Some designers team could use a digital tool on iPad or Microsoft Surface and draw with a stylus. Then, software development team members discuss these sketches and decide to eliminate unsuitable ideas.

Through a sketch, you can easily see the future application layout. However, you can’t see the app in action because a sketch can’t show the software’s functions via the internet.

Mobile App Wireframe Design

The wireframe is a skeleton of an app/web. It’s a basic and simple interface that interprets the way your app will work. For example, what happens when you click a button or how screens connect. There are no images, fonts, logos, and texts in a wireframe. The most basic UX flow wireframe prototyping symbols and simple boxes for text visualization are enough. However, if there is data or information, a wireframe can show you how the information will be arranged on the screen.

You can use a notepad, a sketching app or a brainstorming board to create a wireframe. It’s better to use a specialized wireframe app for this stage. A typical wireframe app has basic components you need to explain your idea. The most popular online mobile app wireframe tools are Balsamiq, Creately, Pencil, and Gliffy.

Mobile app developers will use wireframe as a guide during the building process. When seeing in a wireframe, it’s easy to know what include in an app and where to develop:

  • The individual screens
  • All elements on each screen
  • Input that users expect
  • The attribution of elements when users interact with them

Mobile App Mockup Design

Mockup design is a mid to high fidelity representation of your app’s basic idea. It gives an overview of how your app will look and behave, how the data will be shown on different screens, etc. In this stage, you can see all the components will be visualized in the final version of the app:

  • Buttons, text bars
  • The content layout
  • Colors and graphics
  • Typography
  • How to space components of the app
  • Navigation graphics

Developers often use design tools like Photoshop, Adobe Xd, Mockplus, Mockflow or Sketch to create mockups. Another easier option is PowerPoint for non-UI designers. You can create a mockup easily based on a wireframe, just fill details, colors, and fonts to the whole structure.

Sketch, wireframe, and mockup help non-technical people imagine how the app actually is in reality. Thus, if you outsource a mobile to a software development company for the first time or you first develop your app, the three stages will not only save you a lot of time, effort and money but also make you feel easy to follow the process.