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Wireframe examples for mobile & web: what they are, importance, differences

Chief Design Officer and Partner

Kravchinskaja Maria

Chief Design Officer and Partner

Marketing Manager

Tsagoiko Darya

Marketing Manager

July 10
2024
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Imagine you have to reach a certain point on a map, so you need to plot out the route. Probably, you'll use a navigator. It won't show you the detailed, realistic landscape. However, you'll be able to understand where and how to move to the destination: should you turn, stop, or shortcut. 

Wireframing the web or mobile interface in product development allows you to do something similar to that analogy. It provides a roadmap for visualizing the information architecture, user flows, and core interactions of a website or app – all before a single pixel of visual design is created. 

If you've ever come across the idea that wireframing is a waste of time, keep reading. Here we'll discuss why this design stage is truly important and what tools provide the best result. And, no theory without practice: let's explore some wireframe examples created by SolveIt that served as a solid foundation for great products. So, let's start with the basics!

What is a wireframe?

Wireframing is the fundamental UX design process of creating a lo-fi, two-dimensional visual representation of a web page or mobile app interface, including:

  • Screen layouts

  • Navigation panels

  • UX and UI design components

  • Conversion areas

  • Interactive elements, etc. 

The distinctive point is that wireframing involves outlining the structure, layout, and functionality of a software product without delving into the visual aesthetics or specific content. Typically, this requires flowcharts, established graphic symbols, as well as black, gray, and white colors.

“From a business perspective, the main purpose of mobile app or website wireframes is to align requirements among team members, and it is precisely the visual minimization of styling and graphics that allows for a constructive and focused decision-making process.”

Maria Kravchinskaja, Chief Design Officer at SolveIt

Why is wireframing important?

The creation of such a "skeleton" of your software product has many benefits. As a minimum, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, using wireframes can reduce mobile or web app design time by up to 50% compared to skipping this step. 

Depending on the projects your vendor specializes in and what specific services they provide, each team may give you their own reasons for including wireframing in the design process. 

At SolveIt, we construct web or mobile app wireframes with the following objectives in mind:

  1. Rapid Prototyping

Wireframes allow for quick, low-fidelity prototyping of ideas, enabling teams to rapidly experiment and iterate on concepts. The consolidation of all design aspects, from user flow to branding, into a single step makes it difficult to collect feedback and leads to chaos.

  1. Stakeholder Alignment

Visualization through wireframes allows turning technical jargon into something understandable to any project participant at early stages, like the discovery phase. The simplicity and monochrome nature allow you to avoid the trap of personal perception: focusing on the "what" rather than the "how" simplifies communication.

  1. Cost Optimization

Wireframing helps validate the feasibility of core functionality, identifying potential usability issues at the beginning of the process before they become costly to fix. Сontrol expenses by catching design and UX problems upfront, rather than discovering them further down the development pipeline. 

Wireframing vs. prototyping: what is the difference?

"I didn't even understand what I needed to click to launch the animation" – this kind of feedback is frustratingly common in UX design projects from team members or clients. The mixing of the two concepts – wireframes and prototypes – is a fairly frequent occurrence. 

If we return to the example we started the article with and compare them, you'll notice the parallel.

A wireframe is a representation of each street on a map, but simplified. You can feel the architecture of the city if you look at it, but you won't be able to perceive its beauty.

A prototype, on the other hand, allows you to virtually walk through the city, see the intricate architectural details, and experience the overall aesthetic and atmosphere.

“The main difference between wireframes and prototypes is that wireframes are static representations, while prototypes are interactive product simulations that include visual design styling, elements, and animations.”

Maria Kravchinskaja, Chief Design Officer at SolveIt

Depending on the project type, its budget or timelines, some variables may differ. It happens that prototypes are built from wireframes – and in that case, they do not have high levels of detail either. Sometimes a prototype is built directly, bypassing the wireframe phase. But we are talking about an ideal scenario.

So, the classic design development process consists of the next stages – exactly this interpretation we use while executing UX/UI design services:

  1. Wireframing (UX);

  2. Conceptualization (UI);

  3. Mock-ups (UI);

  4. Prototyping (UI/UX).

In other words, the first and last stages cannot be interchangeable: they have completely different business goals that are conditioned by their sequence. 

Goals of wireframing:

  • Visualize core functionality and interface structure at an early stage of development, when the design is not yet finalized.

  • Quickly and cost-effectively test concepts and identify potential usability issues.

  • Focus on functionality rather than aesthetics to simplify communication across all project participants.

Goals of prototyping:

  • Create an interactive, usually high-fidelity, product simulation that mimics the real user experience.

  • Detailed development of visual design, animations, and interactions.

  • Test the prototype with real users for further validation and iterations.

  • Present the final design to the client or development team.

Wireframe vs. Prototype Difference

App wireframes examples [SolveIt experience]

At SolveIt, we mainly begin the design process for each mobile app project with wireframing. This foundational step is crucial for clearly defining the structure and functionality of the future product.

Further, we'll provide wireframe examples our team has developed for our actual clients to illustrate the value of this core design process.

App wireframe example 1: Productivity habit tracker app 

Productivity Habit Tracker App Wireframe Example, SolveIt

From an implementation standpoint, this is a simple but effective wireframe example, which utilizes basic shapes and standard icons, f.i. pictographic images. This approach ensures the viewer is not overly focused on the aesthetics, but rather clearly identifies the type of each interface element.

The functional blocks, navigation, buttons, and call-to-action elements of this wireframe example are all accounted for and come together to form a clear understanding of the interface structure.

App wireframe example 2: Car charging MVP app

Car Charging MVP App Wireframe Example, SolveIt

This mid-fidelity wireframe example allows us to trace the user's journey - from registration to the actual use of the charging stations. We also avoid getting distracted by images of vehicles – after all, one could debate Tesla endlessly!

What is particularly important for MVP projects: at this stage it makes sense to determine the key functionality and align stakeholders.

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App wireframe example 3: E-commerce children store

E-commerce Children Store App Wireframe Example, SolveIt

This wireframe example illustrates the layout of online store content – a critical aspect for the success of e-commerce projects. 

Factors such as the presentation of product cards, the functionality and appearance of filters, and the recommendations or cross-sells displayed have a direct impact on user behavior and, ultimately, sales performance.

App wireframe example 4: Job search app

Job Search App Wireframe Example, SolveIt

The design focuses on streamlining the job discovery process, with intuitive filtering and sorting options to help users quickly identify roles that match their skills, experience and preferences. 

Beyond the job listing view, the wireframe example also illustrates features for managing the job search pipeline without the focus on detailed description or visual style.

App wireframe example 5: Food delivery app

Food Delivery App Wireframe Example, SolveIt

This project had an interface that did not meet client expectations and was inconvenient due to poor UX. It needed to be reworked to stop the client losing money from user dropouts. 

Redesign by SolveIt had to be initiated from the very beginning – this wireframe example has detailed the navigation and conversion zone placement, becoming the basis for a clickable prototype with a new UI kit.

Web wireframes examples  [SolveIt experience]

At the starting point of SolveIt's web design process lies the practice of wireframing. By first mapping out the core functionality, content, and navigation of each digital experience, we can ensure the end product truly resonates with users. 

Let's take a closer look at some of the web wireframe examples that have guided our past client projects.

Web app wireframe example 1: Medical workflow solution

Medical Workflow Web app Wireframe Example, SolveIt

In projects focused on process automation, wireframes play a crucial role as they allow tracking and visualizing the entire user flow, helping to verify the optimization itself. 

Beyond the doctor's dashboard view, the web app wireframe example also illustrates features for managing the overall medical workflow without dwelling on detailed descriptions or visual styling.

Web wireframe example 2: Website for fire protect systems company

Fire Protect Systems Company Website Wireframe Example, SolveIt

This wireframe example formed the basis for the UX/UI of the website for the fire suppression company. 

Since it served more as a digital business card, wireframes allow for a clean and organized structure for the content, ensuring a professional and user-friendly products' presentation and conversion boost.

Web app wireframe example 3: B2B e-commerce platform

 B2B E-Commerce Web App Wireframe Example, SolveIt

This wireframe example illustrates a web application for a B2B e-commerce platform. Since it involves two sides of participants – buyers and sellers – considering the flow for each user type is vital for the successful development of the final product. 

The designated conversion zones encourage and drive purchase behavior. The absence of product images and the use of repetitive, intuitive UI elements allow for a clear understanding of the functionality.

Web wireframe example 4: Website for construction firm

Construction Firm Website Wireframe Example, SolveIt

The future website required a well-designed interface with a focus on the proper information structure and a highly intuitive user interface. 

Construction is a complex field with numerous stages in the sales funnel, so it was important to provide clients with a clear explanation of all work stages. This wireframe example enabled the building of the proper user flow.

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TOP 5 wireframing tools

As we discussed, one of the defining characteristics of wireframing is its cost-effectiveness, achieved through rapid development and simplicity. To a large extent, the right tool in the hands of an experienced designer determines the fate of this speed and convenience – that means app design cost in future. 

Tools for Design Wireframes

Let's take a look at the TOP 5 web and mobile wireframing tools that have gained the love and recognition of UX design professionals around the world.

  1. Figma 

Figma's intuitive drag-and-drop interface and pre-built wireframe components make it easy to quickly create and customize website and mobile app wireframes. 

The browser-based platform eliminates installation hassles, while enabling seamless collaboration and sharing of wireframes across teams. Over 75% of designers believe Figma surpasses other platforms in terms of real-time joint work.

Figma's wireframing tools streamline the ideation process, allowing designers to validate ideas faster and transition smoothly into the prototyping and design stages.

  1. Adobe XD

As part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, XD offers a tightly integrated experience for UX designers who are already familiar with other Adobe tools. 

It offers a wide selection of free and premium wireframe kits, allowing designers to jumpstart the ideation process by leveraging pre-built components and templates. This not only accelerates the wireframing phase but also enables a seamless transition to the next stages of design and prototyping.

  1. Sketch 

Sketch is a popular Mac-based design tool known for its clean interface and powerful vector editing capabilities. 35% of Figma users were previously using Sketch, so it's not surprising it took the 3rd position. 

Its simplicity and focus on rapid ideation make it a designer favorite. Sketch's robust plugin ecosystem allows users to extend its functionality, incorporating features like responsive layout management and user flow diagramming to enhance the wireframing process.

  1. Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a popular rapid tool that focuses on creating low-fidelity, hand-sketched-style wireframes quickly. 

It's loved not only by UX teams but also by product managers, founders, and developers, as it helps communicate ideas simply and efficiently. Balsamiq's hand-drawn aesthetic and pre-built UI components help designers focus on structure and interaction over visual design.

  1. Miro 

Miro is a cloud-based, collaborative whiteboard platform that allows designers to create wireframes and other visual design artifacts. 

Miro's infinite, flexible canvas and robust set of wireframing-specific templates and UI elements make it easy for designers to quickly build out screen layouts and user flows. Additionally, this tool is recognized among the product owners and managers, so it's perfect for collaborative stakeholders' discussion. 

At SolveIt, we prioritize using Figma due to its robust set of features tailored specifically for the upcoming stage of mobile or web development services. Figma's Dev Mode enables them to easily view and understand the changes made by designers, facilitating seamless collaboration across the team. 

Final Words 

The creation of website or mobile app wireframes is a crucial step in the product development lifecycle, providing a clear roadmap for the design and functionality of future software. As we've explored in the presented wireframe examples, this process offers numerous benefits beyond simply serving as a starting point.

At SolveIt, we leverage our expertise across the entire design and development spectrum to create wireframes that become a solid backbone for successful digital products. Our comprehensive approach means these design artifacts will be tightly integrated with the rest of the project, rather than existing in isolation. Contact our team to start your product design and development journey!

FAQ

1 | What is a wireframe?

Wireframe is a basic, two-dimensional visual layout that outlines the structure, navigation, and core functionality of a website or mobile app, without the visual styling or content. Website and app wireframes are common ways to visualize and prototype digital products during the design process. Wireframes help align requirements and enable focused decision-making before more detailed prototyping or visual design.

2 | Why is wireframing important in the design process?

Wireframing is an important part of the web and mobile app design process for several key reasons:

  • Rapid Prototyping. Wireframes enable quick, low-fidelity prototyping, allowing teams to rapidly experiment and iterate on design concepts.
  • Stakeholder Alignment. The simplified, monochrome nature of wireframes translates technical requirements into an easily understandable visual format, facilitating stakeholder communication and feedback.
  • Cost Optimization. Wireframing helps validate feasibility and identify potential usability issues early, before they become costly to fix later in development.

3 | What are the main differences between wireframing and prototyping?

When we compare the wireframes to prototypes, we can identify the following key differences:

  • Fidelity. Wireframes are static layouts, while prototypes are interactive simulations.
  • Focus. Wireframing focuses on mapping core functionality and structure, while prototyping deals with developing the visual design, animations, and interactions.
  • Purpose. Wireframes are used early in the process to plan the foundation and test concepts, whereas prototypes are built later to validate the complete user experience before final development.

4 | What are the best wireframe tools?

According to the 2023 Design Tools Survey from UXTools.co, the top wireframe and UI design tools preferred by designers are:

  1. Figma

  2. Adobe XD

  3. Sketch

  4. Balsamiq

  5. Miro