Wireframe, mockup and prototype - From sketch to interaction

What is wireframe?

A view framework, thanks to which we present the structure and operation scheme of a website or application. It presents only the most important elements, its idea is to visualize the final product in a simple way. We are not going into details at this stage as all attention should be focused on the basic and most important functions. Wireframe is also used to verify the assumptions of the product, whether they are needed and realistic. We can identify irregularities in the structure of the system, which, once implemented, would be difficult to change. Having the wireframe ready, we can also estimate the costs and set up a work plan for the project.



The easiest way to create a wireframe is with a freehand sketch. This is one of the better and recommended methods at this stage. Of course, it can be done in a graphic program, eg Axure or Balsamiq, but at the beginning we have to decide on a few things that we should not focus on at this point, e.g. font size, shape of figures or grid. This can be changed at the time of design, but we are already starting to think about these elements and get used to them, which may outshine other more important functions. The wireframe should be made entirely in gray and it doesn't have to look exactly like the final product.


What is a mockup?

Mockup is a static representation of the appearance of the finished product, it focuses on the visual part, determining how users will interpret the final page or application. The mockup should present the details and details of the project and be easy to understand for the client and user. Contrary to wireframes, we should focus here on colors, typography and icons so as to maintain consistency throughout the project. At this stage, they are not yet creating interactions, they will only appear during prototyping.



To create mockups, we already need professional tools, thanks to which we can present our mockups. The most popular are Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, and Photoshop is helpful in graphics. These are extensive programs with functions necessary for the design of websites and applications.



What is the prototype for?

The prototype is a faithful presentation of the finished product. It is a mockup enriched with UX elements, interactions and animations, this way you can visualize the appearance and operation of the entire system. The prototype gives the impression of a ready application, although it still lacks back-end. This is the stage where you can see how the screens are connected and actually interact with your product. Thanks to prototypes, you can conduct very effective user interface research, evaluate which elements work best, and also give you the opportunity to spot usability problems before coding. In addition, the prototype may affect the customer or investor's perception in a more efficient way than mock-ups.



There are many prototyping programs, including: Invision Studio, Figma, Adobe XD, UXPin. They have functions for creating animations and interactions between screens, but also between individual elements.

Summary

In summary, wireframes, mockups and prototypes are not the same but are closely related elements that make up the design process. Of course, they are based on each other, but they should not be mixed so as not to disturb the reception and focus at a given stage. It is important to consider which part of the design is most important to us, this means that we do not have to design every screen exactly at every stage. If we create a wireframe, it is important to present the structure and skeleton of the page, it will be enough to present the few views that show it. It is similar with prototypes, when we have a very complex website or application, creating interactions and animations of all screens and elements is very time-consuming and unnecessary, because most of them are repeated. Only mockups are the stage at which all views should be made, because it is the basis for coding the entire page, it also ensures that everything will look exactly as the designer planned it.



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