Wireframes, Mockups, Prototypes: what is their role in the design development?
It is impossible to make an attractive web or mobile app design without thorough elaboration of every item. Although there are many variants to develop a good design, but web and app designers usually resort to already approved schemes like wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.
Do you know what does these strange words mean? We propose you to consider it in more detail.
Wireframe – the blueprint of the future product
Practically, everything is simple. You are an engineer, for example, and you make a draft of structure that is scheduled to be built. The process of the web and app development has much in common with the engineering process. As to wireframes, they allow determining functionality and interaction between screen templates of various products.
Wireframe aims to display the following:
Plan of structure
Short description of the user interface
More simply, it means you must have a visual idea of what you want to get in the future app. It is the basis of any development. It will make it possible to avoid mistakes during the implementation process. Especially because rework may cause large costs and other problems related to discrepancies in the work process.
Mockup – the graphic outline of the future product
Technical characteristics of this feature are not difficult to understand as well. They are almost the same as these of a wireframe. Three-dimensional mockup serves the purpose to provide clients with a deeper vision of their final product.
Mockup features include:
1). content visualization
2). structurization of information
3). displaying of static functionality
For example, due to mockup, you will be able to evaluate the colorful design of your future website. Thus, it will be possible to make your remarks for improving the product. The interface is not active yet, but it enables to understand how it will look. In this case, the client can give designer his feedback, whether he is satisfied with the product or not.
It is worth noting that mockups are the necessary feature not only for the client but also for designers. Designers can consider every small detail that may significantly affect the result. So it is one of the main items you should pay attention to during the app and web development.
Prototype – the interactive model of the future product
As you may know, there are a lot of meanings of the word “prototype”. Actually, it depends on an area it is applied in. But now we are talking about software. So prototype is a partial or possible implementation of the new product.
It serves 3 main purposes:
1). Clarification and clear formulation of requirements. Designers create a preliminary working version of app/website part, and it is tested. It enables developers to detect errors and defects in its part before it is turned into the complete product.
2). Looking for alternative solutions. Prototype as the technical tool allows developers to scrutinize various steps of user interaction implementation as well as to apply possible technical methods. Prototypes make it possible to show the requirements feasibility.
3). Development of the complete product. Eventually, functional implementation of basic app functions using prototype enables to create working app.
So it means that the main goal of prototype building is to eliminate all obscurities at an early development stage. And it is no less important than all the above.
The best designing tools to use
Designing is nothing without tools. Even if you are really skillful in this area, you can not work without appropriate programs. So we decided to list a few tools which are the most popular in the world of design.
Balsamiq Mockups. One of the most convenient and easy-to-use service. Using this tool, you can build mockups of user interfaces for websites, mobile apps, and common software. For basic functions, you can download a free version, but for professional designer paid desktop version will be preferable.
You can purchase it for $90.
Axure. A desktop app for the development of interactive HTML-prototypes. It allows to insert widgets simply by dragging. It is a full-fledged UX tool, which cost varies from $29 to $495. Although you can test a 30-day free trial as well.
Pidoco. The tool for creation of graphic user interfaces in real time. It is mostly used for the improvement of software since it saves time and redesign probability comes to naught. Apart from the desktop version, it can be used on iOS and Android devices.
Pidoco cost: $12-175 per month
Penultimate. If you are an iPad fan, pay attention to this app. Moreover, if you miss good old pencil and paper, this tool is up to you! Use a stylus instead of pen and iPad instead of paper. Perfect alternative for wireframing. Thus, you will be able to make a basic design of the future app with this tool.
Its cost for today is $12-23.
InVision. A cloud platform for quick conversion of the web and mobile designs into clickable prototypes and mockups with interactive elements. This app is perfect for collaborating and sharing with all its elements. If you need it only for creating one prototype, use this app for free.
The cost of three prototypes is $15 per month. An unlimited number of prototypes development cost from $25 to $100 depending on professional and team versions accordingly.
Build your own success
As you can see, making a good design is not easy but rather captivating task. However, such techniques as mockups, wireframes, and prototypes will surely help you create something peculiar and crowd-pleasing. And moreover, appropriate design tools can become your best friends and assistants.
An ability to make use of professional experience and achievements of other people is priceless in the present-day digital world. Nevertheless, you should remember that even the most innovative IT tools will not replace your hard work and creative efforts. You use your brain – tools do the rest. All the tools above can be necessary for expressing your creativity and ideas to change the world for the better.