21 Feb
3 min
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Software Development

Difference between wireframes, mockups and prototypes

Wireframe, mockup, and prototype are common terms used by development companies for app development designs. Each term is used to illustrate products, gather information, and represent the actual product to the client. These terms are the actual representation of the app from a grayscale representation to a full-fledged representation of your app. From user flow to full functionality. Wireframe, mockup, and prototype are representations of different stages of the app development cycle. All of these designs serve a unique role in the app development journey.

These terms are used interchangeably sometimes creating confusion in the client’s minds. To clutter out this confusion have a look at the pic below. Wireframes are low fidelity with simple boxes and text for representation, mockups are static representations of just logos and elements of designs and prototypes are the actual representation of your app with all the design perspectives and with clickable elements. Let’s have a look at detailed notes on what are the differences between wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.

Difference between wireframes, mockups, and prototypes

Wireframes Mockups Prototype
Definition Quick grayscale representation of various aspects of the app like features, page elements, and navigation. Realistic representation of features, page elements, and navigation with design elements Representation of the final app with all the elements with functions and features which are clickable. Prototypes are the final representation of an app.
Purpose The main focus thing in a wireframe is the structure of your app. To get feedback on how the app will work. Detailed representation of app without clickable elements for getting feedback from the clients, often used for determining the gaps intervals and implementing the changes if needed The final representation of the app with all the necessary elements and forgetting real user experience.
Fidelity ratio low medium high
Included elements Features, page, and navigation Additional elements like logos, colors, and features Final app with interactive and clickable elements.
Time consumed high medium low

Wireframes

Wireframes are the first step of the design on which the whole app is developed. The wireframe is the first step in the design of your app. Wireframes are a quick representation with low fidelity. It is often used for brainstorming. It is not necessary that wireframes are made by UI/UX designers. Wireframes can be represented on a simple white paper, or in a product management tool. Wireframes are the basic view of an app with the exact placement of buttons, texts, and other necessary elements.

Mockups

Mockups are the advanced version of wireframes with design elements like logos, colors, and features. Mockups represent the detailed arrangement of design elements without clickable elements. Think of a mockup as a static representation of an app. Mockups are the preparations for the prototype. Mockups are essentially used for determining intervals and gaps in the application.

Prototypes

The prototype is the final representation of your app. They are developed for showing the exact working of the app with all the necessary elements and clickable elements. The main purpose behind prototypes is usability testing and encouraging feedback sessions. The main difference between the real app and prototypes is that prototypes contain test data in the back end. A prototype is invaluable as a user testing tool once created.

Conclusion

All of these terms are different stages in the design representation. Wireframe, mockup, and prototype bring clarity to what customers want and how the app actually looks without any physical users. The wireframe is the first step in the design representation. Mockups are second and the prototype is the last and final step of design representation.

Additional Read from CodeEpsilon PMO Dais

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