Fundamental differences between Mockups and Wireframes

Both the terms mockup and wireframes are commonly heard of while speaking to software developers. However, if you need to work regularly with them, it would help you to understand exactly what these are and how they function. To start with, you need to know why you need to start with them in the first place, as each of them represents different stages of the design flow.

Reasons to choose mockups, wireframes or sketches

    1. If you wish to save money potentially spent on developers and focus more on knowing exactly what you want to get built
    2. Mockups and wireframes are designed to help you gain clarity on what you want to be built. Both will assist you in making pitches to investors

About Wireframes

A wireframe reveals a really basic visual version of the design. The features of this design are in low fidelity and it is commonly created through black and white sketches. Decisions on what and where to place on the app or website are taken at this stage (as per features and content). This is naturally not expensive to create and can be completed fairly quickly. When you should this to users, you are likely to get quality customer feedback because most users are interested in the user experience and functionalities instead of the aesthetics. Of course, aesthetics can always be modified at a later stage. Instead, one must always focus on solving problems.    

About Mockups

Mockups provide the exact graphical representation of the design, presenting every kind of function and content.  They are ‘pixel perfect’, and mockups exhibit high fidelity. Naturally, to prepare a ‘pixel perfect’ product, it takes a massive amount of time. It is not possible to start building an app without completing mockups. Similar to wireframes, it does make sense to ask customers for feedback since changes to the design can be made immediately. Also, if you are looking for quick affirmation from a stakeholder, mockups are highly suitable.

Both wireframes and mockups are static. On the contrary, prototypes are dynamic. Additionally, both mockups and wireframes are non-clickable.  

Wireframe and mockup tools

Both free and paid tools are available for wireframes and mockups. Some of the top wireframe tools for UX/UI designers are as follows:

  • Sketch
  • Mockplus
  • Axure
  • OmniGraffle
  • Photoshop
  • InDesign
  • FlairBuilder

On similar lines, the best mockup tools include the following:

  • Moqups
  • Mockplus
  • Balsamiq
  • Mockup Builder
  • Mockflow
  • Hotgloo
  • Invision
  • Uxpin

Creating any design for your application is not a one-time job or the result of a simple action. Not only does it require technical work, but a lot of imagination, creativity and conceptualization are responsible for the creation of an app. All of the above have to be linked through latest technology. Several iterations are needed to make the application appealing and fully functional, for which both wireframes and mockups provide equal contributions. As per research, it is said that the design stage itself is responsible for taking up 30% of the time in the development cycle.