Wireframes, mockups, and prototypes are terms that are often used synonymously, and they are indeed quite confusing. This article explains what is hidden behind each term and provide helpful prototyping tools.
“Confusing wireframes with prototypes is like assuming an architectural blueprint and a display house, are the same thing.”
Wireframes, mockups, and prototypes actually represent the different stages of the design flow
Wireframe, a low-fidelity way to present a product, can efficiently outline structures and layouts. The wireframe is the basic and visual representation of the design. Your wireframe design doesn’t need to focus too much on minutiae, but must express design ideas and should not miss any important parts. A wireframe is like a channel that helps team member understand their projects better.
Mockup, a kind of high-fidelity static design diagram, should demonstrate information frames and statically present content and functions. Unlike a wireframe, a mockup looks more like a finished product or prototype, but it is not interactive and not clickable. It is rather a graphic representation. This can be helpful, for example, to provide investors with a picture of how a finished product can be, and help team members review their project visually.
Prototype is already very close to the finished product. Here, processes can be simulated and user interaction can be tested. A prototype looks very similar to the finished product. Early prototyping can save a lot of development costs and time so that the work of back-end product architecture will not be in vain because of unreasonable user interface design. A prototype is an excellent tool to obtain user feedback and to test the product.