The Difference Between Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype

The Difference Between Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype

Believe it or not, the world is sweeping by the obsession with apps. The millennial founders are only preaching about how applications are helping them deriving traffic and growing business also paying attention to a difference between Wireframe, Prototype, and Mockup. While the entire procedure may seem quite simple and easy-to-be-done; getting an app designed is not a way full of roses.

A mobile application is not a concept constrained by a technical process, but it involves conceptualization, creativity, and imagination to keep pace with technology. To make an application visually attractive and functionally precise, it has to undergo numerous iterations.

According to the masters of the field, when it comes to applications, almost 30% of development time is taken by designing. Therefore, it clearly states that designing comprises an essential part of the development. And, to make it even more exclusive and precise, it is important to walk with the superior industry standards being relevant to creating wireframes, prototypes, and mockups.  

However, while talking about these three terms, despite them being essential to get off the ground, there is a prevailing misconception regarding their meanings. Approximately, these three elements are well-thought-out to be same that are used to showcase sample designs.

Although there is a gamut of information available for these terms on the internet, most of the times, they leave you wondering are prototypes, wireframes, and mockups the same? So, if you are new to this, here is everything you must know about it.

Difference between Wireframe, Prototype, and Mockup

When it comes to designing an application, it is extremely essential to follow this above-mentioned procedure. In simple words, a developer first creates a simple and plain sketch. After that, a wireframe is created to organize the features and content of the app. And then, colors, icons, pictures, and logos and added to the wireframe to create a mockup. In the end, attractive elements are added to bring the mockup to life and turn it into a prototype.

What is Wireframe?

Most of the times, people find it quite difficult to state the difference between wireframe and prototype. However, both the terms are simple to understand and extremely different from each other.

Talking about wireframe, it can be considered as a skeleton or a basic structure of the application. Whether it is discerning the outcome of certain clicks or deciding what feature to put at a certain place, a wireframe is a stage that makes all the decision.

It is not important to focus too much on details while creating a wireframe. It emphases more on the functional features than on the visual elements and is nothing less than the backbone of your entire design. Generally, a wireframe is all about paying attention to solving a problem. If cannot be ignored, visual elements should be used as less as possible. The widely used colors are white, black, and grey.

A wireframe should precisely show:

  • Primary content groups (what?)
  • Information structure (where?)
  • Interface interaction (how?)

There are several ways of designing a wireframe. You can draw it by hand, create a whiteboard doodle, or, you can even use digital tools to create a wireframe.


When should you use Wireframes?

Used as project documentation, wireframes are static. However, you may even use it in a way which is less formal. Owing to their simple and quick form, wireframes can be used as clear sketches to communicate well with the inner-team.

What are Mockups?

Coming to mockups, unlike wireframe, it is equivalent to the final design of the application. However, it is usually neither interactive nor clickable. To sum it in simple words, mockups are just like the graphic representations of the applications.

With a mockup at hand, it becomes seamless to instruct the developer for how you want the application to be. In this stage, you add fonts, colors, text, logos, images, and everything else that enhances the wireframe and improves its shape. Also, you must also keep User Interface Practices in mind while creating mockups.

A well-designed mockup:

  • Demonstrates basic functionality, represent information structure, and visualize content in a static way
  • Inspires people to review the visual aspect of the project

This stage allows UI or application designers to accumulate feedback on the visual look of the application.


When should you use Mockup?

Generally, mockups are effective if you intend to get an early affirmation from a stakeholder. Because of their visual aspect, they can be quickly created, unlike prototypes. They can gather feedback amazingly; so that is how you can use them.

What is Prototype?

In the end, the prototype is the last stage. Since it is clickable, you even get a response upon clicking. This clickable aspect of the prototype allows you to assess how users are interacting with the UI interface in reality; hence, increasing the impact of communication.

With this, designers get a chance to test their efforts and journey along with discovering probable problems during the flow of interaction at the initial stages.

A prototype should let users to:

  • Interact with the interface and experience content
  • Test the important interactions

There are generally two types of prototypes:

  • Hi-fi prototype: When several mockup pages are made clickable, mockups are then transferred to be a prototype, which is known as hi-fi prototype.
  • Lo-fi prototype: When several wireframe pages are made clickable, wireframes are then transferred to be a prototype, which is known as a lo-fi prototype.

Even if you wouldn’t go in-depth, things will still work out. All you should do is to categorize priority levels, like content flow, user flow, the reaction of page layers to each other, etc. Interactivity is one of the important aspects of the prototype.

There are plenty of UI Kits that you can use in handy to create beautiful, high-fidelity prototypes and boost up your design workflow. Right from designing interactive mobile apps and websites, to using it for your corporate projects, these UI Kits turn the designing and prototyping process into a fascinating and easy game.


When should you use Prototypes?

In user testing, prototypes should be used to their full potential. Before the beginning of the actual development, such imitation provides final interaction to check interface usability. Since the interface comes in the straightforward and tangible form, prototypes are always the most engaging forms of design documentation. However, they can be a bit time-consuming and expensive; therefore, develop such prototypes that can be reused in the development process.

Wireframe vs prototype vs mockup; each of them holds their own unique characteristic and can be used in different scenarios. However, it depends on your requirements how you are going to use these three. Therefore, for a qualified and skilled product designer or product manager, it is important to know which one should be used at a certain point in time. Anyway, in the end, make sure that you don’t mockup or wireframe a mobile app or a website without keeping your users in mind.

"Sanjeev loves everything about WordPress. Always in constant search for new tools and Plugins keeps him hungry all the time. He spends his day brainstorming new ideas about new plugins and themes on WPeka and CyberChimps. You can follow him on his personal blog appsreviewhub or Facebook