Wire-Frame, Prototype, Mock-Up, and Sketching, What The Difference?


Every begging should have a specific base or structure.
Which lead to something bigger and bigger to build something in the end.
In the Technical fields, A starting point refers to one of the next terms:
Sketch, Wire-frame, Prototype, or Mock-up.

I’m sure you have heard these terms before While working with designers, developers, analysts, or programmers.
Many people assumed that wire-frame, mock-up, prototype, and sketch are exactly the same thing!


You should already ask yourself!
What do these words mean, What the difference between them, And When to use them?

First off, We need to know Why we should use Prototyping, Wire-framing, Sketching or Mock-up?

They are conceived to help you discover your expectations, express and explain your thinking in an accuracy and specific way to make it more professional. If you have a new project and you don’t fully understand What the customer needs to start his project, What should you do in this case?


You should work through 4 stages:


1. Sketch

Have an idea? Simply get a piece of paper, pick a pen and just draw it.
A sketch is a simple visual to help explain an idea quickly. Hasn’t any structure to follow. Is the fastest way to describe your idea.



2. Wire-frame

A Wire-frame is a low fidelity representation of a design. It’s the beginning to turn your idea into reality.
Help you to describe your idea clearly. A wire-frame is a simple structure of your project. That defines the functionality of a product. Describe the how and why of the ways the project work. It can be the backbone of your design that has every important piece of the product.



3. Mock-up

A mock-up is a middle to high fidelity representation of a design.
Rule number one: “Never start a project without completed mockups”
It’s all about User Interface and visual aspects.

In this step, you can add colors, fonts, text, images and any content that complete your wire-frame’s shape. It’s a great way to discover the final design of a product.
Help to gather feedback about the concept of the product. As it can be quickly changed and updated.



4. Prototype

A Prototype is middle to high fidelity representation of the final product. It aims to be as a simulation of the final experience of the product.
It gives you feeling of a real product but it’s only an image without any functionality. Prototyping Is a mix of mock-ups and pieces of user experience, animation, interactions. It describes how a user navigates a product in a real time.

Many people confused with wire-frames and mock-ups.
As we defined before wire-frame is about the functionality of the product. But Mock-up focuses on the visual aspects more.
 Wire-frames = Structure + Functions + Content.
 Mock-ups = Style + Right Content + Colors.


let’s make it more clear for you;

Sketches: is a simple quick draw and sketchy design.

Wire-frames: use documentation, quick communication by a sketchy, black and white representation of an interface.

Prototypes: is the backbone of the interface.

Mock-ups: is a static visualization. Gathering feedback and getting buy-in from stakeholders.


Sketches, mock-ups, wire-frames, and prototypes will be helpful ways to describe your point of view to be touched efficiently to others.
You can select the best approach of those stages which suits your project’s requirements.

By having a look at your business, your team, and your project this should help you in choosing the best way of communication.

But don’t forget:

“None of this stages have to stand alone. Each step completes the other. It can bring you closer to a perfect design”.


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