Mockups are absolutely essential in app dev, and the only way to truly get your project off on the right foot. Let’s examine the term and its importance in the life-cycle of a product.
What is a mockup?
As per Wikipedia: In manufacturing and design, a mockup is a scaled or full-size model of a design or device, used for teaching, demonstration, design evaluation, promotion, and other purposes.
Here we’re going to discuss about mockup from a design and user experience (UX) perspective. The terms mockups, wireframes and prototypes are frequently used when discussing the app dev process.
Phases of the UX Design Process
A typical UX design process is a cycle of elaboration and reduction. The elaboration phase if used to generate as many different ideas as possible. The reduction phase is intended to carefully curate one of these ideas and refine it. Both these phases are continuously repeated time and time again throughout the course of design.
A mockup is an integral tool of the design process that aids the cycle of elaboration and reduction. While working on an app dev project, mockups are an ideal instrument to show the client, functions and features of the app or website before it ever hits a user’s hands. It is an essential tool to figure out what you are going to build…before you start coding.
Digging Deeper in the Development Cycle
Prior to its release, a website or app goes through many different stages. These stages are intended to allow a select few to interact and test the appearance, structure and functionality of the app. Three tools used in the UX design process are wireframes, mockups and prototypes.
A wireframe is typically a low-fidelity, bare-bones blueprint made with grey boxes and detailed content. The goal here is to quickly highlight the information and workflow without getting burdened by aesthetics. You can think of these as free hand sketches, and they help to get both the development team and the client on the same page.
An embellished version of a wireframe is a mockup.
A mockup is used to show the basic functionality and appearance of a product. It is a mid to high-fidelity, often static representation with visual details, with not all the functionality working. The visual component in mockups make them more impressive and ideally suited for presentation to stakeholders.
Typically a prototype is a low to high fidelity representation that has working functionality with a close adherence to the UI design. This is really the final stage that an app will enter before coding begins. You can touch and interact with a prototype and get a real feel for how the final product will behave.
The Importance of Mockups
Mockup are important for several reasons:
- Implementation of Design Details
A mockup lets you test and change the usability and visual details before a developer ever touches the keyboard to code.
- Visual Implementation Details
As they depict the final design, they give stakeholders a good idea of the interaction and visual design of the app. Prior to solidifying in the development stage, the visual components like color, contrast, interactions and buttons can be easily manipulated in the mockup stage.
- Quick Turn Around Time
Mockups give developers and project managers the ability to quickly adapt to client requests. If you wait until the development phase to make changes, your app is going to take a lot longer to complete, and cost a lot more. During mockups, changes can be made in less than 24 hours and presented back to the client for approval.
Balsamiq – Codify’s Recommended Tool for Mockups
One of the most well-known and widely used mockup tools is Balsamiq Mockups. It is offered as cloud-based or desktop software. With a low learning curve, this tool enables developers to create mockups in just a few hours, based on a client’s wishes.
Balsamiq offers the same speed and rough feel as sketching with pencil, with digital advantages like drag & drop, resizing and element rearrangement. The application has a good collection of drag and drop components and reusable libraries.
As it is a tool that promotes collaboration, the full team of designers and clients can work together to ensure rapid prototyping. You can easily share visuals across your development team or with the client themselves.