Every so often we get a question of why we don’t add some more details to our mock-ups and come closer to the real product in order to communicate the design. So we’ve decided to take the time and explain what mock-ups are meant for and what their real purpose is or is not.
Mock-ups represent a step in the process between a wireframe and a prototype. A design process is exactly that - a process, and it has its stages with each of the stage fitting in the picture and playing an important role. This idea doesn’t sit well with people who believe that a mock-up should bear a close resemblance to the final product but we’ll try to prove otherwise.
Right now we’re going to focus on lo-fi mock-ups as it is our firm belief that their advantages are numerous; however, probably the most important reason we insist on having them is that in doing so we focus on generating ideas until the right design comes along. In UI/UX design looks can be deceiving, so lo-fi mock-ups are stripped of so many visual elements and they belong to the phase of the process which aims at figuring out the user flow and the proper visual hierarchy.
If you look at them in that way, they are very valuable as they provide feedback regarding functionality, usability of the main design idea. They are a perfect balance between the final product and the ease of modifying it. With a lo-fi mock-up, you can iterate easily without changing a single line in your code.
When using lo-fi mock-ups, more is less. Be careful not to overdo it with artistic elements and graphics as we want to build mock-ups that are accurate enough in describing the final product yet simple enough not to turn the stakeholder’s attention from the functionality of the product which is being tested at this very phase.
Once you get the desired feedback you can proceed to hi-fi or pixel-perfect mock-ups using lo-fi mock-ups as sort of a “design specification”. However, we trust that early stage ideation is super effective, detects problems on the spot and most of all, it’s easily achieved with lo-fi mock-ups. Don’t rush into building a product without testing the idea first because as a famous architect once said: “You can fix it now on the drafting board with an eraser or you can fix it later on the construction site with a sledgehammer.” Your choice.