Few people know about the actual difference between the two terms ‘Wireframe’ and ‘Prototype’ in creating web design projects. There can be confusion with regards to their similarities. However, it is very important to know the difference of these two. Also, what are the benefits that these two can have for your designing projects? It might be possible that sometimes you will only require wireframe in your project and sometimes you will need a prototype for it.
- Research. Initially you have to do some research with your client regarding the design of your website
- Conceptualize. This gives you the idea about which elements and features to include in your website.
- Layout. Make a sketch and decide on the layout of your website following with the basic design of the website.
To make it clearer, we are going to have a discussion about the difference between wireframes and prototypes in today’s article. Let’s start with their meanings.
Table of Contents:
- Difference Between Wireframe and Prototype
- The Power of Paper Prototyping
- Mockplus Review: A Step Toward Simple yet Powerful Prototyping
Difference Between Wireframe and Prototype
Both wireframe and prototypes are phases of web development that you present to your client. This section will help you better understand the to different but similar steps. Continue reading and find out.
What is a Wireframe?
The best definition of wireframe on the Internet explains that wireframe is the visual illustration of single web page.
- It is created to illustrate the content, features and links that will appear on the page
- It helps designers to create a prototype of the web page, while it helps programmers to understand the features and their working on the web page
- It is very important in understanding where every item should be placed on the website’s page
In simple words, it is a visual layout of your website that shows you where each element will be placed on the page. However, according to the needs of the project, wireframes can be in different forms.
Forms of Wireframes
Wireframes can be the most essential part of your product,1 if it’s properly created. It will clarify which element should be placed at which spot. They can be in paper or digital drawing form. It can also differ in the amount of detail that it expresses.
There are two ways in which the level of detail in wireframe production or its functions can be expressed.
These wireframes help out in making the communication easy.
- They can be created very quickly
- They are more abstract in nature because of simple images that are used in them to block the space and apply prototypes as seen above.
These wireframes are more used for preparing documents.
- They have more level of detail attached to them
- They include important information regarding every particular item available on the page
- Dimensions, behavior, and actions of different elements are also included as seen on the image above
Check out the difference between them here.
Visual Diversity in Wireframes
The wireframes have limited amount of diversity when it comes to having visuals. Designers usually use boxes, lines, and gray color schemes when representing different levels of visuals, whereas content such as images, videos, text etc. are saved for the next part.
Advantages of Wireframes
Wireframes are fast and cheap to produce if you are using wire framing software’s such as UXPin. Wireframes should be handled properly from the start of your designing project. A good approach is to collect some feedback regarding the wireframes.
- It will help you focus more on the functions, usability, and user interaction
- It will also help you to change any needed modification without having to change the coding or the making and graphic changes
It is all about reliability.
Designer might want to improve the reliability. How? A clickable wireframe does the trick:
- By giving special importance to certain user interface parts
- By quickly presenting and checking how solid the interaction between elements is
The best way for doing this is by creating a wireframe that is clickable or can be interacted.
Clickable wireframes can create a good first impression with the client. Whenever the client or anyone else asks about the functionality of a particular button, clickable wireframes will answer that.
Presenting Wireframes Carefully
This is a very important point to consider for any designer. When you present wireframes to your common clients and non-technical employers, they can easily get confused because wireframes might not be the final look of how the website’s design is going to be.
What should be the approach?
- Explain a little about what the wireframe is and what its meaning in the design project is
- Make sure to show it to those individuals who might not have enough knowledge on wireframe concepts.
Reason for Using Wireframe
- Time Saver.Using a wireframe will save your time in the long-run.
- Confusion Buster. It will also save you from having any confusion with your clients.
- Puts you and your client on the same page. Creating a wireframe will make sure that you and your client are on the same page before the coding process begins.
There can be a few exchanges of ideas during the wireframe discussion with your clients. But, it is a lot easier to change the wireframe that to change the whole website once it is coded.
Creating and Using Wireframes
There are several ways in which you can create a wireframe. Plenty of online resources and software available that can help you out in making wireframe.
Remember, you only have to get the idea about how the layout and content will be placed on your website.
The core purpose of creating wireframes is to get the visual plan of how the content, images, navigation, text, etc. will be placed on the website.
- You can sometimes create two or three wireframes with different layouts and navigation options for showing to the client.
- By doing this, client can easily choose one from it and you can start making changes to it according to the project.
- Once the process of making layouts and navigation is completed and finally approved by the client, you can start working on the Prototype.
What Is a Prototype?
The best definition of prototype that we find on the Internet is ‘a product that is designed and built to test a new design. It is used to correct mistakes and make the design more user-friendly’.
Prototyping is basically a concept used for testing that originated from concepts of mechanical and structural engineering. But with its increasing usage, it was also started using for the purpose of interactive industry as well.
Why This is Important
- Clients can take visual framework a few steps further, according to the complexity of the web design
- It helps in testing different functions of the website before carrying out the development process or before starting to code
Forms of Prototypes
Same as wireframes, prototype has two forms; high-fidelity and low-fidelity. However, people argue which form should be used and how much should the prototype resemble with the final version.
Both are proven to be very good when it comes to finding usability issues. But, we have to choose only one, right?
So, there are some things you can consider while figuring out which one is the best option for your designing project.
- It is paper-based. They can range from hand drawn prototypes to print-outs
- Don’t allow user interaction
- Easy to create
- Predictive of the early visual of the design
- Stimulate innovation and improvement
- Users feel comfortable in telling about the changes regardless of the rough sketches
- Use the keyboard mouse for user interaction
- Show the closest possible representation of the user interface
- Considered much more powerful in collecting the data through actual human performance
- Very effective in demonstrating products to the clients
Visual Diversity in Prototypes
Prototype is the final version of the product but without any coding done on it.
- The basic colors should be complete, and important contents should also be presentable
- Typography should give a hint about how it will look in the final version
- The proper response follows when the objects are clicked
Advantages of Prototyping
You must be thinking that if wireframes can show the early version of design, then, why are the prototypes important.
- For testing purposes. This is created for testing out the product with the final users
- A money saver. It can save lot of money that would have spent on coding after developing a wrong interface
- For product development. It can be a very good tool for justifying the design and development of the product
- For data collection. It can also help you in collecting data by asking the users to go through the basics and use the website
- For team motivation. This can be very motivation for the team and can provide some useful information as well
Today, many designers use reasonable priced prototyping in order to save time for coding in case of making change. There are a lot of software out there that can be used for this purpose. The changes that you want to make after testing from the users can be applied very quickly without doing much work.
Reason for Using Prototype
It has the same reason which you find in using wireframes. It saves you time.
Once you decide with the client how the final version of the website is going to look like, you can start coding. In any case there is a need of rewriting the codes, it will save you time in writing. Because, it is easy to change the color and size of any element in Photoshop than to having it change on the actual website.
Creating and Using Prototypes
Although it is much easier to create prototypes in a photo editing program, some people prefer to create prototypes in Photoshop or in Fireworks. However, there may be some other ways in which you can create prototypes. Such as:
The depth and detail that you want in to go totally depends on you. However, it can also depend on your client’s needs and the project itself.
Why the Confusion between Wireframes and Prototypes?
Prototype is also sometimes referred to as clickable wireframe, which is why some people get confused in both terms.
Wireframes are created to help out the designers in taking the early steps towards interactive developing process. Prototypes are created to test difficult functionality and interactions that are not possible in wire framing.
Both make the communication easier.
True, these two have some difference in terms of functionality. But both are used as the tools of communication in creating a better experience for the users regarding the final product.
- They are also very helpful in producing good results.
- They make it easier for the developers to make their move.
- They help clients to visually look at the condition of of the project.
- These also save time and money from having to change the coding once the process would have been completed.
- It opens the door of communication between the developers, designers and clients.
- Prototype is helpful is allowing the developers to build the website accurately from the beginning.
Choosing the Best One
These two are totally different objects according to its uses and process. In addition, the needs and requirements of your client will also be very important in this matter.
These questions can help you out in choosing the best one for your project:
- Which is the best option for everyone?
- Are you going to have a full solid research from the users or not?
- Should you go with something simple and less time-consuming?
If you do them properly, they will give you a brilliant design in the end.
Selecting the right tool will make it very easy to develop and share the wireframe and prototype correctly that will make the job done for you. In the end, everyone wants to create and launch a successful project in reasonable time and amount.
Making a decision about which one to choose totally depends on the project that you are working on. You will have to:
- Identify the main purpose of your project
- Understand about your target market
- Closely analyze your competitors
- Analyze product requirements
If you want to choose the best one for your project, I suggest you look on to your clients requirements. You can also ask from your team members about it. You can choose formal document style, or a quick sketch and a face by face discussion. Your designing project will become clearer to you once you have complete knowledge about your team and projects purpose.
The Power of Paper Prototyping
When planning the structure of a website or an app, I often begin by capturing my ideas on paper in the form of wireframes. I quickly sketch several possible layouts to see which form fits best: Should I use a two or three-column layout? What kind of navigation structure will the site have? How can I integrate a search bar? For exploring basic questions like these, nothing beats throwing together some quick-and-dirty paper prototypes. It’s a great way to get the creativity flowing, and when a sketch doesn’t work it’s always fun to crumple it up and play office basketball with the garbage can.
Does that mean that prototyping on paper is superior to using a wireframing software tool? Each has its own strengths that are useful at different stages of a project. In the initial brainstorming stage, I prefer the paper-based approach for the following reasons:
- It’s fast, low-tech and low-cost. All you need to get started is paper and a pencil.
- You can do it anywhere: on the couch, in your garden, or even while lying in bed.
- Paper frees you from adhering to a particular style or following a set of predefined rules.
- It’s fun, playful, and helps unleash your creative juices.
Later on, after having dealt with the basic layout questions, I refine my ideas on screen and enjoy the benefits of digital wireframing:
- A wireframing tool lets me choose from ready-to-use template elements.
- Existing wireframes are painless to modify.
- Files can be versioned and easily be exchanged among team members.
If you are in the market for a good wireframe software, I can recommend PowerMockup, a wireframing tool developed by our company. PowerMockup is an add-on for Microsoft PowerPoint that provides a handy library of stencils for quickly sketching a layout.
Mockplus Review: A Step Toward Simple yet Powerful Prototyping
When designing an app, whether it be mobile or desktop, one of the most important processes is prototyping your app. Prototyping allows you to see early on if your app works properly or not as well as examine possible weaknesses in its design and functionality.
As a web developer, you want to make sure that the app will provide a smooth and unforgettable UX experience to your users. And the best way to do that, of course, is to use a prototyping tool to complete the process. The market is not lacking with these kinds of tools. From the most expensive and the most complex to the cheapest and the simplest, you have a wide range of choice for your needs.
However, isn’t it amazing if you can find a prototyping tool that is simple yet powerful and, at the same time, comes with a reasonable price tag? That would be a real dream. What would you do if this wish can really become a reality with Mockplus?
Mockplus is a new prototyping tool which is as powerful and cleaner than any other prototyping tools which have been around first in the market. As a newcomer, it has a number of outstanding features that would make any web developers’ job a breeze. But before we delve further into each specific features of this tool, we want to focus first on its two core characteristics – simple and powerful.
Who would want a complex tool? An easy and simple tool saves you time getting acquainted with it. Such is the simplicity of Mockplus – it is code-free with a drag and drop option. Even as a designer or developer who knows how to code, such features will save you from worrying about codes getting messed up somewhere and going through each line one by one just to find where that errant code is.
With its drag and drop option, it is easy to see where each component goes. Moreover, this option allows you to link pages and build interactive ones effortlessly. These also mean that even a novice can create a prototype with little or no training at all.
It is almost improbable to think how anything simple can be as powerful. However, Mockplus developers are able to accomplish to put these two features together. In terms of power, Mockplus is an all-in-one tool which allows you to create not only mobile apps, but web and desktop apps as well. This also lets you save money since you don’t have to use other tools to accomplish each purpose.
Mockplus Specific Features
After looking at the general features, let’s look at each feature closely to see what Mockplus can and cannot offer:
200 Predesigned Components
The 200 prebuilt components allow you to create your prototype more efficiently and quickly. It also has more than 400 icons, which are more than enough to create a dynamic and agile prototype. With all these abundant components, the team behind Mockplus is planning to add more.
If you are more comfortable creating your prototype by hand, Mockplus has a Sketch Style feature which allows you to create hand-drawn components. It controls and keeps all lines as you draw them preserving the sketch quality of each component.
Easy App Page Creation Features
How difficult is it to create an app page? Mockplus makes it easy for you to create an app page through its TopBar+List+BottomBar feature and the New-component adjustable settings. The TopBar+List+BottomBar feature also allows you to set any component as a markup or add a markup to your prototype.
Collaboration and Productivity Features
Mockplus makes team collaboration much easier as well. One outstanding feature in this area is the Group Feature which allows you to share your prototype even without a USB cable or remote publishing. All you need to do is save and send it from your mobile phone to your client’s or team members’ mobile phone. Voila! They will be able to view it instantly. Another feature that encourages easy shareability and collaboration is the Simplified Mockplus export option which lets you send your design easily to HTML or images.
The Group Feature allows you to put together several components and place them in one unified and customized component. If you want to separate each component again, the feature allows you to edit and un-group them. Moreover, the easy access page and component libraries increase your productivity.
If you still have questions or encounter difficulties with Mockplus, it has a very helpful and comprehensive tutorial section which give you a walkthrough how to further utilize Mockplus features. The tutorials are either in video or text formats.
Some of the topics discussed in the tutorials include using shortcuts to add components, creating interactive pages by setting links, creating a longer page for a mobile app, and many more.
Mobile App Support
For mobile app development, Mockplus supports preview on mobile phones by scanning the QR code. This feature allows you to check the real user experience of your app design.
Aside from the mentioned features, Mockplus also has an automatic project backup feature. As the name suggests, it enables you to automatically save your project eliminating the hassle of saving each phase or step of your project. Mockplus also allows you to copy data between projects. This saves you time and removes the worry of having to wait until everything is done.
Why Choose Mockplus?
For a newcomer, Mockplus gives other prototyping tools a run for their money with its features that encourage productivity, speed, ad efficiency without all the complexities. However, the real juice can be found in the dynamism of the tool. Aside from a large number of components already included in the tool, the library is still expanding and growing. Soon, a new 2.1 version will be released with twice the power as the original. With this new version, expect an increase in the functionalities of interactions, such as the window pops, slider images, context switching, rolling interface, and more.
Mockplus provides all these dynamic features at a reasonable cost. In fact, compared to other prototyping tools in the market, Mockplus is considered cheaper in terms of features and functionality. Such characteristics are very important to small and medium enterprises who have a limited budget but want a dynamic mock-up design tool for agile development.
The team, Jongde Software LLC., which develops Mockplus is really a sunrise startup company that deserves all your attention and interest. They have made a huge success in mainland China and get widely praise from all of its Chinese users. However, that is not enough. Now in the international community, they have the confidence to gain the acceptance from international users. We deeply believe they will definitely get their place here sooner or later.
Download the Trial Version of Mockplus now and experience the simple yet powerful features of the tool. The Trial Version allows you to use the All-in-One tool and start creating mobile, web, and desktop app prototypes.
There you have it. We have presented you with multiple options on prototyping and what prototyping is and how to get started. How do you start you process of creating your design? Do you sketch you layout or you use some sort of software that is not in this article? Looking forward seeing your comments and suggestions in the comment section.