Designers use wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to speed up the design process as a whole. These three design aids can be a source of confusion. They are not one and the same thing, yet their names are often used interchangeably.
To set the record straight:
- A wireframe is a low-fidelity representation of a design. It is static, and provides little substance. Wireframes can be helpful when an early look at the proposed design concept is in order.
- A mockup provides a mid- to high-fidelity representation of the proposed design. It is more detailed, and it can provide a good source for feedback – but it is also a static
- A prototype is a dynamic model of the proposed design. A working prototype can simulate the look and feel the designer is working towards. Prototypes make excellent usability testing platforms.
Building a prototype is generally done in three steps.
- Sketch out the navigation flows for each of the pages.
- Create low-fidelity prototypes of the pages to test usability.
- Build a high-fidelity prototype for further usability testing and to verify the UX.
Solutions to Your Prototyping Needs
Upload your design files, add animations, and let InVision transform your static screens into clickable, interactive prototypes. You can put together a prototype to test your web and mobile product designs in mere minutes, and without any need for code whatsoever.
This prototyping tool has been recommended by Forbes. Forbes has also pegged InVision as one of the premier cloud companies in the world, joining companies like MailChimp, Slack, Dropbox, and other notables.
What is it designers like best about InVision? There are a number of things; but one would be the fact that it’s always-on working platform speeds up the entire prototype building, collaboration, and usability testing process. Version control tools are in place too, so your efforts won’t come to naught during a flurry of test results, recommendations, and changes.
There’s a pair of nice freebies as well that are worth a look. A free trial version is yours at no charge if you sign up (there’s no obligation), and once you start using InVision, you can conduct an unlimited number of usability tests for free.
Pidoco is so easy to use that you’ll start being productive from the very first minute. This easy-to-learn feature makes it ideal for design teams that are in need of a powerful prototyping capability and would rather avoid taking extra time to become familiar with the operational characteristics. Pidoco is also a good choice for individuals or teams that are simply looking for something better.
Most users rely on Pidoco for their fully-interactive UX prototyping activities; but this tool will also come in handy for any wireframing or low-fidelity prototyping requirements you might have.
Whatever the level of detail and interactivity you look for, Pidoco’s smart template system, with its building block approach, ensures that your prototype-building activities will move along at a fast pace.
This versatile tool can also be used to create specifications to use as blueprints for team members, or as project sign-off documents for clients.
Proto.io is a world-class application prototyping platform, empowering designers, entrepreneurs and developers with everything they need to validate their ideas early, spending the least amount of time and with minimal effort.
Proto.io is ideal if you want to use a single platform for all your prototyping needs: designing, previewing on a mobile device, sharing, collaborating, user testing, getting feedback. It’s packed with lots of valuable features, one of which is importing from Sketch and Photoshop that basically lets you transform your designs into interactive prototypes.
No design or coding skills is required. And if you consider that 340,000 users and the world’s hottest startups and Fortune 500 brands already trust Proto.io, then it’s certainly a great choice.
You can see how Proto.io can help you reach your goals, by signing up for their free 15-day full feature trial.
PowerPoint users love the many extra benefits PowerMockup provides. PowerMockup is a PowerPoint add-on that turns PowerPoint into a powerful prototyping tool. The first thing new users will note is this add-on’s shallow learning curve, which allows them to create professional-looking presentations from scratch within minutes.
No coding is necessary to create a slideshow of animated, interactive screens that present a storyboard-type of prototype you can use to collaborate and share with others. Since PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office suite, your prototypes can even be embedded into Word documents, while keeping them fully editable.
Once you have a pixel-perfect, interactive prototype that exhibits the look and feel you’re seeking, it’s a simple matter to seamlessly transform your prototype into a fully-developed, responsive product. You can of course do any necessary tweaking prior to launch; but imagine the time you can save! Sign up today and start for free.
Take a learning curve so low that no one will realize you’re a new user, add the ability to collaborate with co-workers in real-time, and top things off with a tool that practically breathes UX, and you have HotGloo.
If you feel you are the slightest bit UX-challenged, this is a tool that can make your day! HotGloo was developed with teams in mind. Up to 100 team members can be accommodated with a single license, HotGloo runs on your browser, and you can try if for 15 days at no charge. Why wait?
Lucidchart makes a handy addition to any designer’s tool kit with its ability to quickly create professional-looking charts and flow diagrams, and do them right. A hastily-sketched flow diagram may get your point across, but there’s really no place for rough, hasty sketches in a formal presentation, or anytime you want to make sure that the information being presented is correct and understandable.
With its extensive library of design elements, Lucidchart can serve as a solution to your website and mobile app wireframe and mockup needs as well.
A few ending words
These prototyping tools are not a selection of tools with identical features and capabilities. They serve a wide range of uses, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one just right for your needs, or possible two.
Most of them have what it takes to build high-fidelity, pixel-perfect, interactive prototypes. Several may fit your needs better. If those needs center around wireframing, prototyping, or diagramming.
There’s something for the PowerPoint user as well. And one tool that can do it all, from design, to prototype, to development and launch. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that your selection will be among the tops in its class.