Designing a mobile application is about conceptualization and creativity, together with technical development. The process of designing begins with building Wireframes followed by Mockups and Prototypes. A functionally sound and visually appealing design goes through a number of iterations before final UI is created.

The process of designing an app starts with creating Wireframes which are then transformed into Mockups and Prototypes. Usually, there is a misconception among the three terms, as they have completely different meanings but are generally used interchangeably. To begin with, the underlying difference is that the prototypes are clickable and interactive whereas Mockups and Wireframes differ in fidelity, high and low fidelity respectively.

The first draft of the design is based on the following:

  • They provide a clear picture clearing all
    doubts, expectations and considerations.
  • An Illustration of what needs to be built.
  • Used as a skeleton or structure for building
    your application.

Wireframes:

Wireframe is the first step in the process of building an application. You can start with creating a sketch of how each page is going to look like in order to be clear about the requirements of the application. Based on the requirement, designer creates the first draft of the design which specifies how the app will look, the number of buttons and fields to be added etc.

Wireframes are a set of grey color images which display the functional elements of a screen that is used to plan the structure of the app. Wireframes are generally black, white and grey in color with an exception of blue and green used for displaying actions and navigations respectively. The images and icons are represented with tangular boxes. Each screen describes the functionality of the product as well as the relation between two screens. A well created Wireframe sets the path for the whole team.

Features of a Wireframe:

  • It is a visual description of the requirements and an initial draft to bring clarity.
  • They do not have a specific font and color.
  • Company logo and pictures are generally not added at this stage.
  • You can add blocks with name tags to specify each requirement.
  • It is not interactive
  • It includes new inputs, iterations and ideas at any point.
  • A low fidelity representation of a design

Wireframes are the backbone of your design as it contains all the important piece which eventually form the final design. It shows you where each item should be placed on an app.

Mockups:

The immediate next step is to create a Mockup for your design which allows you to quickly iterate on the app screens before you invest in the actual coding process. Thus, presenting something tangible to show to clients before you move forward.

A Mockup is a realistic representation of what the app will look like. It is built on top of Wireframes by adding the overall appearance aspects of design like color, fonts, style, images, logos. A Mockup is a middle to high fidelity, static design.

Like wireframes, mockups are static screens but have rich visual elements and high fidelity representation. Mockups help in collecting feedback for the product enabling the designer to make iterations.

Features of a Mockup:

  • Mockup is a quick way of collecting feedback.
  • It is the final look and is visually appealing.
  • At this stage, labels, fields, fonts, font types, navigation menus etc are specified in the design.

Prototypes:

Prototypes represent a shift from user interface to user experience. Prototype is a high fidelity representation of the application. When the Mockup is introduced with User Experience, interactions, animations and clickable buttons, it is called a Prototype which helps the client understand how to interact with the design providing an experience of using a real app.

All buttons, fill information fields are clickable and the user can navigate through different screens to check the operational flow. Interaction is one of the most significant feature of a prototype.

Wireframes, Mockups and Prototypes, each of them have their own features and characteristics which are distinct and are used at different stages. Their usage is dependent on the requirements of the project.

Once the fundamental difference between Wireframe, Mockups and Prototype is in place. It is important to define milestones to be achieved at different stages of the project.

Follow this sequence to reduce redundancy at the time of app development. Spending enough time on developing Wireframes, Mockups and Prototypes can save development time.

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