If you have an app idea, one of the smartest things you could do is to build a rough prototype sketch even before you get in touch with an app developer.
When you first come up with an idea for an app, it’s wise to sketch it out. It will then help to take it to people, show them what you’re thinking and to get their input with regards the concept. It will not only help to clear your thinking, it will also assist you with communicating your requirements in a much clearer fashion to the app developer. This, in turn, will help the development company give you a more accurate timeline and quote.
So, here are some of the tools we ourselves use internally and recommend to our clients. All of them are simple to use, but very powerful. Go ahead and try them out:
1. Pencil and Paper
Grab a pencil and paper and start sketching what you have in mind. You don’t need to be an artist; if you know how to draw basic shapes,such as boxes, lines and circles,you are good to go. The sketches will look unprofessional, but that’s not the point.
Spend 15-30 minutes drawing your first version. Call your colleague over to your desk and ask her what she thinks; revise the sketch based on the brainstorming you did.
2. Printable Sketch Templates.
Again, this is a pencil and paper based sketching style. We use this technique a lot; it makes life so much easier. They look something like this:
Simply download these PDF templates (see download links below), print out onto A4 paper and start sketching. I recommend using these templates instead of using just plain paper;they give a sense of screen space and your sketchy wireframes automatically look a tad neater!
You will fall in love with this prototyping tool instantly. Creating wireframes for your app is such a breeze that probably even your grandma would be able to do it. No wonder it’s one of the most popular choices available.
It has a drag and drop intuitive interface. This allows you to drag components such as buttons, text labels, lists, etc. and build your app wireframe in no time.
If you need more templates than what have been provided, check out the free community templates at mockupstogo.mybalsamiq.com.
Balsamiq is a paid software (a single user license costs $79 and the web app starts at $12 per month); you can try the software for free before deciding to purchase, if you wish.
4. POP popapp.in
POP turns handdrawn wireframes into interactive prototypes. Sketch the app ideas onto paper, take pictures and add links between them. You can share your prototype idea online to get feedback.
Try it out. Check the video above.
5. Blueprint iPad App
Blueprint is an iPad app which helps you to sketch your app so that it actually looks like the final product.
If you have an iPad, download the app (lite version: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/blueprint-lite-ios-mockup/id407188253?mt=8/ paid version: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/blueprint-ios-mockup/id405203705?mt=8). Open the app, create a new project and start dragging and dropping components onto the canvas area.
It is very simple to use;the controls are exact replicas of iOS default controls. It is also possible to link screens,you can specify what screen should be shown when a button is tapped. So, as well as the sketch, you also have the flow defined.
Make sure you prototype your ideas and test them out with friends, family or co-workers. The above simple tools are highly recommended, make sure you try each one of them and settle on the technique which suits you best.
Have you sketched an app before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below.