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Wireframes vs Mockups

When designing a new web-page or adding a new feature to your product, it's important to create both wireframes and mockups - but what's the difference? In short, a wireframe is a low fidelity, minimalist approach to a design concept. It focuses on the core layout and features a new page will have, but leaves all the flash to the mockup. Mockups are higher fidelity and include color, real language, and true icons. A wireframe decides how a mockup will look, and a mockup should be an accurate, static representation of the final product.


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3 Differences Between Wireframes and Mockups

  1. Color

    The first major difference between wireframes and mockups is the display of color. When wireframing, it's best to intentionally be bleak with your color scheme, or better yet keep it entirely black and white. Leaving color out of your wireframes helps to avoid distractions when planning and focusing on general page layout and design. For mockups, do the opposite. Play with different color schemes and find the one that you want to use with your final product. Mockup colors should pop and entice the user.

  2. Style

    The next big difference is the general style. Wireframes tend to be very grid-oriented, with most objects being either the same size or proportional to one another. While it's still good to follow the general grid approach when creating a mockup, it's okay to loosen the rules a little. Trust your eyes and what you think looks better. Overall, wireframes should stick to strict style guidelines, whereas mockups can have more leniency for what the designer thinks is the best fit.

  3. Language

    Finally, a major difference between wireframes and mockups is the language used. When wireframing, it's best to use fake or place holder language like Lorum Ipsum. Again, the reason for doing this is so that the product development team isn't distracted by the web-page copy and instead focuses on the general design. For mockups, include the real copy you want to appear on the page. By including real copy in mockups you give both yourself and the development team an idea of how the text should actually render on the final product and how much space it takes up.
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