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The Difference Between Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype? | Blog

You often hear terms like sketch, wireframe, mockup and prototype while working with developers, but do you really understand what these terms mean? Would you know when to use wireframe or when to go with prototype?

Let’s begin with the reasons why you should start with a sketch, wireframe, mockup or even prototype as you begintosa:

It’s crucial for you to distinguish these terms as you communicate with a remote development team. Based onour experience, we need about2-3 Skype calls and approximately 2.5 hours of business analysis to understand what exactly needs to be built –even without the basicwireframe.Mockups take a minimum of 5-8 hours for a simple mobile app.

Designing Your First App

The graph belowshowsall stagesof the typical designrepresentation development journey. Itisessential to follow these steps each time you createa new product.


Start with a simple sketch on a blank piece of paper. Then, makea wireframe that organizes the content and features of your app. Add colours, icons, pictures and logos to your wireframe for the mockup. Finish by bringing your mockups to lifewith interactive elements.

What’s The Difference Between Sketch, Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype?


It’s basically just a raw freehand drawing on a piece of paper, that gives you a low-fidelity representation of your app. It is the fastest way to get your idea ready for brainstorming. Even a simple sketch can describe your idea better than words. Generate ideas, change details, visualize what you have on your mind; it’s all up to your imagination. This step is essential forgetting to the wireframe stage.

My favourite tool to do it:Pen and A Selected List of Templates


Awireframe is equivalent to the skeleton or simple structure of your website/app. Each one is used to describe thefunctionality of a product as well as relations between views (what will happen when youclick a certainbutton). The decisions on what (content/features) and where to put on the website or appare usually made during this stage. This step does not cover the product’s design.

My favourite tool to do it:Balsamiq


At Brainhub, we never startbuildingan app before mockups are completed. With this representation, you can start to work on the development process and the developer can make your mockups a reality.Any mockup will provide a medium-fidelity representation. Add colours, fonts, text (Lorem ipsum), images, logos and anything else that will shape your wireframe. Your result isa static map of the app. Think about User Interface Practiceswhile shaping this step. If you don’t have the ability to move your wireframes to the next stage, just outsource it.

My favourite tool to do it:Sketch


Prototypes offer a high-fidelity representation of your app. It’s like a mockup enriched with UX pieces, interactions, animation and anything else you’d liketo experience whenclicking buttons. This step is not always needed to create an app. If you’re not a developer, I highly recommend havinga prototype to pitch youridea to friends, family and potential investors. The only thing that missing is functionality. It cangive you a feeling of using a real app, but they are only images connected with each other.

Get feedback from your customerswith a prototype and measure.

My favourite tool to do it:UXPin

More Resources


One picture is more than a thousand words. Below you can see the major difference between wireframes and mockups.

If you are looking for great tools to create your firstsketch, wireframe, mockup or prototype, just check my last post about how to prototype an app as a non-designer. Once there, you will find great tools and free resources that will help you build your first app prototype.

Good luck!

Matt Warcholinski is the COO of Brainhub (a software house building awesome node.js web and mobile apps) who loves to build startups and play guitar.

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