Prototyping your app idea with an iOS mockup tool is the most important step in the app creation process, allowing you to brainstorm functionality and better communicate to your team exactly how the app works.
Lots of tools exist to help you along in this process. I’ve sifted through the junk and list below the Top 5 free and paid iPhone wireframe tools for both “idea people” and experienced designers and developers.
Pencil and Paper
Even after years of prototyping apps, my personal favorite for mocking up how an app will work is good ‘ol pencil and paper. Many feel it’s quicker to mock things electronically, and want the images to be interactive and sharable. You may be that sort of person. Each person has to decide for themselves what triggers their creativity. My process is to first sketch the app screens, and then create electronic versions of my sketches.
There are a few different sketchbooks out there that will help you draw out your screens to scale:
App Sketchbook (for iPhone/iPad) – $12.00
Mobile Sketchbook (you can also get iPhone/iPad stencils for $19.99) – $11.24 on Amazon
UI Stencils (an AWESOME collection of sticky-note sketch pads and stencils for iPhone/iPad & Android!)
For me, drawing things outside the confines of a computer opens my mind to a wider array of possibilities. I’ve done it both ways, and settled on pen and paper as the right choice for me. Do the same and see what works for you!
iPlotz is my number one choice for creating iPhone wireframe mockups electronically. They have lot of built-in iOS interface elements making it easy to drag and drop elements on and around the screen. The program also allows you to set hyperlinks on buttons to link from screen to screen. My favorite feature is the sharing option. It allows you to comment on specific portions of the design and then allow clients to comment or give fedback.
For the features they offer at just $99 a year it’s a great value.
If you’re familiar with using presentation tools like Keynote or Powerpoint to convey your ideas, MockApp is the tool for you. It allows you to drag and drop various components and change the text labels. Great choice even if you’re not a Keynote/PPT fan as it’s free and easy for anyone to pick up. (Note: Currently Mockapp supports iPhone only.)
Keynote KungFu ($12)
Keynote KungFu is another prototyping tool that includes tools for iPad. Below see a talk from Kungfu’s creator, Travis Isaacs.
Although I prefer iPlotz another very popular iOS prototyping web app is Balsamiq, which supports both iPad and iPhone mockups.
Mockabilly (free) – This web application brings your mockups to life, allowing you to assign “hotspots” and navigation to simulate how a user will navigate through the app. Pretty cool.
Realizer (free) – another free app for sharing your iPhone and iPad mockups
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