Web design
calendar Published 07/15/2019

Wireframe, Mockup, and Prototype. What Is the Difference?

You have probably often come across such terms as wireframe, mockup, and prototype if you were cooperating with designers. However, do you really understand in-depth what these notions mean? Do you know for sure in what context each of them should be used?

It is confusing for most designers to differentiate between the wireframe, mockup, and prototype. Even designers having solid experience in the field of design get mistaken when they are asked about these terms. Therefore, it is critical to come up with a clear meaning and understanding of these notions. Read on the article and get a clear explanation of these terms provided by our competent and qualified UI/ UX designer.

What Is a Wireframe?

A wireframe denotes a backbone of a specific application or a website. It is a graphic representation of the website’s core elements and constituents. If to compare the process of designing a website with the process of constructing a building, each of these things needs a blueprint (a plan, a design, a graph) and a team of people to work on it in order to make it look in a proper manner and make it function effectively. Initially, a wireframe looks simple and needs to be further completed by IxD, UI, and UX designers. Frankly speaking, the design of a wireframe can be described as the one having low fidelity and persecuting three targets:

  • Include the main information;
  • Contain the visual representation of the user interface;
  • Compose a detailed outline and layout of the structure.

One can compose a wireframe in a variety of ways. One of them is to draw a sketch on a piece of paper. The second is via implementation of such wireframing tools as Balsamiq, Uxspin, and others. Actually, there is a vast variety of tools that can be used.
One of the biggest pros of designing a wireframe is that it is relatively cheap and easy to complete. You can demonstrate it for your potential client and ask for a feedback. It is great option since you will then pay more attention to the functionality, design, and mechanics rather than mere visual representation and aesthetics.

What Is a Mockup?

As a rule, a mockup ranged from mid to high fidelity. It enables one to reach final decisions concerning the typography, visual representation, styles, and color schemes of a specific product. With the help of a mockup, it becomes possible for one to experiment with the visual representation of a specific product and get to know in what way it looks best. On this stage, you can also seek for a feedback from your users or clients, thus being able to make the necessary changes and adjustments. Among the other advantages offered to you by mockups are the following:

  • They are intuitive
  • Due to their high fidelity, stakeholders find them intuitive. Mockups do not demand much context in comparison with wireframes. This is the main difference when talking about wireframe vs. mockup.

  • They offer realistic perspective
  • With the help of the mockup, you will get a real-life model of how the final product will work. Moreover, some real problems will be unveiled and make obvious as well.

  • You can revise the product on an early stage.
  • It is easier to revise something on the early stages of product development, so this is a great benefit. The difference between a mockup and a wireframe here is that the former cannot be sketched. As such, feel free to use one of the available mockup tools, such as Moqups, Marvel or InVision.

What Is a Prototype?

A prototype relates to the representation of the ultimate product. It is a high-fidelity one and its core aim is to stimulate the interaction between users. A prototype enables one to undergo interactions within the interface and the very content due to the fact that it is clickable. A prototype most resembles the final product however it is far from being that.
The core difference between the final product and its prototype is that the latter concerns merely the back-end and the interface. One of the core benefits of the prototype is that it allows users to explore the interface and get to know what they like or dislike about it. If you want to try some prototyping tools, think of Adobe XD, Mockplus, etc.

Final Word

Much can be talked about the functioning of wireframes, prototypes, and mockups, but it is always better to visualize it and get a clear picture of the principles of functioning. Therefore, have a look at the visual representation:

Infographic Difference Between Wireframe, Mockup, and Prototype

We do hope that this article has proved to be valuable and beneficial for you. You have learned much about the differences between a wireframe, prototype, and mockup. Moreover, you have managed to draw some interconnections, such as mockup vs prototype, etc. The information will come in handy for you when you need to decide which of the tools will fit best into the product design process.

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