Business, Development, Fundamentals Monday March 8, 2021

What is the Difference Between Wireframe, App Prototype & Mockup?

Any expert designer would know the difference between Wireframe, App Prototype, and Mockups, but many others fail to understand the minute differences between the three. So if you are a business owner, product manager, or newbie designer, wondering what these terminologies exactly mean? and Can these three can be used interchangeably? If not, why?

We are here to help you!

It’s high time we understand the crucial details about these terms and trace their differences. In this article, we will see why Wireframe, App Prototype, and Mockups are essential in software development? What is their function, and how are they different from each other?

Why Wireframe, App Prototype, and Mockups are important in software development?

The product development process has many stages that make it a success. Wireframes, Prototypes, and Mockups are three such critical stages of software product development. These stages offer the UI/UX designer the opportunity to conduct user tests of the design process and implement a better product design.

The user testing features allow the designers to try and test different approaches towards product development. These stages check the product development effectively for the target audience. The designer can get proper feedback on how exactly the users or visitors navigate through the software. It helps them draw a significant insight from their product and act towards meeting the desired expectations.

A well-executed user test at every development stage is crucial for your software design. The screening from Wireframe to the final Prototype will allow you to create an excellent product that makes value for the users. The Wireframe, App Prototype and Mockups is the foundation of good UX design.

These development stages bring a high level of detail and practicalism to the software design.

What is Wireframe?

A wireframe is a rough design of an app or a graphically represented website with the essential elements and features. It is a low-fidelity display of product design. You can look at wireframes like a blueprint of a house. If you are planning to build a home, you will need a detailed building plan for

construction. Similarly, when planning to design a software product, you will need a wireframe to execute your development plan.

You need a rough sketch like a drawing to make the blueprint of your software. The Wireframe helps you design your development plan for the website and app project. Wireframe allows you to calculate all the risk factors and vital elements of your development requirement. In simple words, Wireframe helps you see the bigger picture in the initial development stage of the project.

The characteristic features that Wireframe depict:

  • Content layout
  • Design outline and page layout structure
  • Basic UI features

The most significant advantage of creating a wireframe is that it gives direction to your development project. Also, the wireframing stage is not expensive for your project. This Wireframe also acts as a sample design to seek valuable feedback from the potential users and audience. This initiative will help to change your design and functionality according to user experience.

There are various methods used for creating Wireframe. The traditional way is to sketch it in a notebook. But the modern wireframing techniques involve using efficient tools such as Framer, Zapier, UXpin, Balsamiq, etc. You can use any such software tool to get your Wireframe made quickly.

What is Mockup?

A Mockup is a visual way of representing a product’s design choices for color schemes, typography, iconography, layout, navigation, and the overall user experience of the product. It is either a mid- fidelity or high-fidelity display of design. While a product wireframe reflects the product’s structure, a mockup represents how the product will look.

A mockup helps you visualize your product’s aesthetics and appearance. This stage allows you to make significant decisions about what your product finally looks like. The mockup design enables you to take productive feedback from the users or potential customers. You can immediately make the essential changes in your product.

This stage will resolve all appearance issues right away by avoiding any changes in the later development stages. This step will save you a lot of time and money by adjusting your UI before launching the products.

Just like Wireframe, you can use various Mockup tools to prepare your Mockup. You can consider using Mockflow, Figma, Marvel, InVision, or Moqups.

What is App Prototype?

App Prototype is a high-fidelity representation of the product that improves the user interface. Unlike Wireframe and Mockup, App Prototype is clickable, which allows the users and visitors to interact with the content and interface. A prototype is precisely like a final product except for a few crucial differences.

The prime difference between a prototype and the final product is mainly the interface and the backend system. The prototype model does not have these features integrated. A prototype is just a development model, and the backend system is not integrated with it to reduce project costs. When the UI is finally approved, the final touch is given to the product.

The biggest motive behind designing a prototype is that it allows you to experience the final product. It provides a highly interactive solution for the users to experience the product before launching and giving their feedback.

You can use Invision Studio, Origami Studio, Mockplus, Adobe XD, etc., prototyping tools for your project.

What is the difference between the Wireframe, App Prototype, and Mockups?

The primary distinguishing factor between Wireframe, App Prototype and Mockups is the unique characteristics of each stage in terms of design and functionality, and objective in the UX designing process.

In simple words, Wireframes is a simplified visual design for the final app development. A Prototype is clickable, interactive model created with Wireframes replicating the final product. On the other hand, Mockup is the final design of the app that reflects the aesthetics of the product, such as colors, illustrations, layout, and fonts. Wireframes and App Prototype represents how the final product will work, and Mockups show how the product will look.

Let’s understand using the example of the human body to explain the roles served by each framework. The Wireframe acts as the skeleton of the body; the prototype works as the brain decides how the human body should move and interact with things around it. While Mockup is the skin, hair, and external body features that make the human recognizable by everyone.

Summing up

All the design processes have specific functions and features, and hence there is no right or wrong order of the development process. Every product development process is different, and you need to choose the correct fit for your project.

We hope this article has removed all your confusion, and now you are enlightened to make the right decision for your product development project.

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