The Difference between Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype

The Difference between Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype

Creating designs for your application is not a simple task or one time action.

It’s not only technology but a lot of imagination, conceptualization, and creativity go together into designing a mobile or web application. There are lots of iterations required to make an application functionally accurate and visually appealing.

So, how do you go about putting together an aesthetically appealing design for your mobile or web application..?

Wireframes… Mockups… Prototypes… may serve the purpose..?

Absolutely, the answer is “YES”. But, the next question may be… Well, what is the difference between these three?

This blog is precisely aimed at explaining the difference between a Wireframe, a Mockup & a Prototype.

Let’s first understand the each one of these.

Wireframes:

In layman terms, a wireframe is a visual illustration of a web page which illustrates where each of the elements of a web page / app screen should be placed.

A wireframe can be said to be a low fidelity representation of a design equivalent to the skeleton or simple structure of the website/app.

Wireframes do not show much detail, but create a simple design that guides the project and its team members at the very start of the project.

  • Wireframes visualize the basic elements of a web page
  • They are developed and refined quickly, but are not interactive
  • Each element of a wireframe is used to describe the functionality of a product as well as relations between views (what will happen when you click a certain button).

Mockups:

A mockup is a middle to high fidelity, static, design representation.

Mockups are visually more appealing, has colors, fonts, themes, buttons, logo, etc. The web elements such as labels of the fields, notes, font types, navigation menu, etc. are specified in the design. A mockup is also static page layout, but it showcases how the final product will look like.

A well created mockup:

  • Represents the structure of information, visualizes the content and demonstrates the basic functionalities in a static way
  • They are static displays of how the visuals of the final product should look
  • As visual displays they can be either mid or high-fidelity, depending on your time and resources

Prototypes:

A Prototype is a middle to high fidelity representation of the final product, which simulates user interface interaction. It allows the user to:

  • Experience content and interactions with the interface
  • Test the main interactions in a way similar to the final product
  • Prototypes are dynamic & clickable

Basically, a prototype is a simulation of the final interaction between the user and the interface. It might not look exactly like the final product, but should be vastly similar.

Prototypes enable you to explore the UI, pinpointing which elements work best, and predicting usability problems before they become problems.

DIFFERENCES SUMMARISED…

  Fidelity It is About… Benefits
Wireframes A Wireframe is a low fidelity representation of a design Ø  Functionality & Layout specifications

Ø  Navigational Systems

Ø  How interface elements work together

Wireframes allow us to think about usability first without the distractions of graphic design
Mockups A Mockup is a middle to high fidelity static representation of a design Ø  Look & Feel

Ø  Built on a wireframe with color & graphics included

Ø May adjust layout slightly but stays within the general guide of the wireframe

Mockups help envisioning the visual & branding aspects
Prototypes A Prototype is a middle to high fidelity representation of the final product simulating user interface interaction Ø  Simulates the final design, aesthetics, materials & functionality of the intended design

Ø  Serves as a final check for design flaws if any

Prototypes help envisioning & testing our product before investing in coding

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