You have several ways of communicating your ideas to your clients and stakeholders but not all of them speak with such relevance or immediacy as mock-ups.
A mock-up presents your idea visually and, in essence, communicates your product quickly and easily. With a mock-up, you get a different feedback from a client as mock-ups are more digestible to them. They are usually static (although you have coded ones, we’re not talking about them right now) and filled with visual details. There are low-fidelity mock-ups and high fidelity or pixel-perfect mockups. However, our focus now will be on lo-fi mockups since they provide you with the feedback on navigation and the intuitiveness of the application. They are not so much interested in the aesthetics as that is the case with the high-fidelity ones.
What is important to bear in mind is that mockups are not the final design, they are just a tool to help you receive the feedback on whether it accomplishes the goal or not. In this way, you can improve the product and maximize the number of times you get to refine the design before you have it coded.
Why you should use mock-ups
Layout - A mock-up should show how much content you would like to be displayed and how the elements will be visually arranged so that the stakeholder gets an idea of what the final product will be like. The use of color and fonts is also very important as the stakeholder can review the visual side of the project before it moves on to coding.
Mock-ups are good as any mistakes will be spotted early on and revisions can be done quickly.
Moreover, the communication between a designer and a stakeholder is much better as the mock-up speaks the stakeholder’s language. They don’t have to imagine what it would be like, they can see it already.
With the mock-up created everyone gets an idea of what the final product will look like and a rough idea of how it could function as the lo-fi mock-up should show usability and function of the product without utilizing it.
How lo should you go?
The fidelity of the mock-up is not set in stone. It depends on how much time you have and what budget you can work with.
There are many pieces you can include in your mock-ups but in the end, it’s up to you to choose the fidelity which suits your needs. If you want to test the usability and flow you’d better use lo-fi mock-ups as adding too many visual elements will distract the clients from focusing on the real issue of navigation and flow.