Difference Between Wireframe Mockup and Prototype – Essential To Know

During your career as a business analyst, you will come across wireframe, mockup, and prototypes very often. These are visual techniques that help the business stakeholders and development team to follow the requirements. However, many professionals especially beginners have confusion about the same. What is the difference between wireframe, mockup, and prototype? When and how to use them? who creates these diagrams? and many more questions.

Difference Between Wireframe Mockup and Prototype

If you have a similar question and want to know the key difference between wireframe, mockup, and prototype, its usage and benefits then this article is for you. However, if you are an experienced and professional designer then you might want to skip this article.

So, let’s get started and know about wireframe, mockup, and prototype one-by-one and understand their key differences.

What is Wireframe?

Wireframe is a raw visual representation of the website or app design. It is like a blueprint of the system that contains its essential elements and content. You can check out my previous article here where I have explained the wireframing in detail.

A wireframe diagram usually a black and white diagram and most of the time it is created on a paper by using a pen or pencil. It is a quick way of designing what clients want in front of them and get the idea to proceed further. I find it very useful during the requirement gathering process.

When it gets created, and who creates a wireframe?

Well, wireframing is a very quick way of outlining the system design and get to know the business expectation. It is used during the project analysis phase where the requirements are not yet clear. Wireframing helps the stakeholders to explain their requirements efficiently.

This diagram is created by the business analysts. As I explained, wireframes could be designed in a piece of paper as well however, organizations use standard tools to design clear and effective wireframes. I prefer to design if on the paper in front of the business users and later deign the final one on the tool when you reach your desk.

What is Mockup?

Wireframe show the products structure and how the key elements and components will be aligned. However, a prototype shows a more detailed visual representation of the TO-BE build system. It has color schemes and shows how the product is going to look like. However, users cannot interact with it and button and other components won’t be clickable.

Business stakeholders will have the ability to imagine their future system’s look and feel. At this stage, business users can comment on the system’s color scheme, font, and other designing components. You can capture the business user’s feedback and implement them on the mockup right away in front of them to finalize the design.

When it gets created, and who creates a mockup?

Wireframe and mockup happens before the actual development starts. It is part of the requirement gathering process and this could be initialized during the project analysis phase and continued till the designing phase. A business analyst (in some cases) or someone from the UX design team completes this activity. There are many advanced tools available in the market that allows you to design mockup without any technical skills however, design thinking is a key for this.

Unlike wireframe, you cannot finish the mockup designs on paper using a pen or pencil and you have to use tools used in your company. It is very important to design mockups as close as possible to business expectations because it will save a lot of time during development and post-implementation. You won’t have to make adjustments to your website’s or app’s design later on.

Read Also… 10 Important Documents Prepared By Business Analyst

What is Prototype?

Prototype is a replica of the TO-BE build system and it exhibits all its functionality. As it is closest to the finished product, it has clickable buttons, input and output, and other interactive components. Process simulation and user interaction with the system could be achieved here.

It allows the business stakeholders to get the feel of the future system and you can capture their feedback during the session. It is used to save the development budget because you don’t have to make frequent changes in post requirement gathering.

However, not all the project use prototype for its development. It is usually used by companies that have many products and implement them in the client’s place with customization to meet customer’s expectations. Unlike wireframe and mockup, designing a prototype is a very time-consuming process.

When it gets created, and who creates a prototype?

As explained, a prototype is replica and closest to the finished product, it involved database, actual development work. Therefore, it is designed by the development team however, business analysts demonstrate the prototype to the business users and note their feedback, likes, and dislikes during the requirement gathering process.

Difference between Wireframe Mockup and Prototype

Till here, you know about wireframe, mockup, and prototype. Now, let’s see how they differ from each other;

WireframeMockupPrototype
A wireframe is a blueprint of the future system without any color or functionality.A mockup design is an improved version of the wireframe and it shows how the future system will look like.A prototype is a replica of the future system which is meant to simulate user interaction.
Wireframes can be designed on paper with a pen or pencil.Mockup cannot be designed on the paper and you need to use mockup tools for the same.The Prototype of a product is designed by the developers as it is a partially working product.
A wireframe could be designed very quickly.Mockup takes more time than wireframe but less than a prototype.Prototype takes more time to develop.
It is designed by the business analysts.It could be designed by the business analysts or UX design team.It is developed by the development team.
It is developed in almost every project.Mockups are also developed in all the projects.Prototype may not be required for all the projects.

Read Also… Key Difference Between BRD, FRD, And SRS – Don’t Be Confused

Why do we need Wireframe, mockup, and prototype?

Now, you know about the wireframe, mockup, and prototype and also the difference between them. But, why do we need these visual methods in any project? Well, following are the three main reasons for using these techniques;

1. Discovering Requirement

Many times, business users are not clear about their requirements and expectation from the future system. You have to use various requirement elicitation techniques like brainstorming to discover the requirements. Having a design to see rather only imagination helps the business users to explain their expectations and business analysts to understand them quickly and efficiently. It also reduces your overall requirement gathering efforts and time.

2. Saving Development Costs

Wireframing, Mockup, and Prototyping helps the business analysts to capture the complete and accurate requirements. It also helps the business stakeholders to explain their feedback and expectation clearly. This eliminates the chances of missing requirements.

After you have done the design work perfectly, your development team just need to develop the system. You won’t be expecting too many changes post-development which usually delays the development time. Hence, it saves a lot of development costs.

3. Pitch New Clients

An attractive prototype enables you to demonstrate your product to the new potential customers in no time. Your potential customers can get the feel of the product along with your pitching presentation. This will make them take quick decisions about the project contract. It also depends on how beautifully and smartly you have to build your product’s prototype.

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Conclusion

Visual techniques helps the business analysts to gather complete business requirements, note stakeholders expectation, likes, and dislikes about the future system with minimum efforts.

Now, you know;

  • About the wireframing, mockups, and prototyping
  • The key differences between them.
  • Why do we need wireframe, mockup, and prototype?

You might not be needing all three in your project but now, you should be able to use the right visual techniques as per your project’s need.

I trust you find this article useful and it will help you in your future projects. Do share it with your friends and colleagues if you enjoyed reading. You can also subscribe to the BABeginners mailing list to get the latest post directly to your inbox.

2 Comments

  1. Kavita December 5, 2021

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