Are Prototypes, Wireframes And Mockups The Same?


When you start learning about creating digital products, you'll hear about wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. At first, they might seem like they're all pretty similar, but they're actually different and play different roles while the product is developing. 

People on the design team sometimes use these words interchangeably, which can be confusing. You might wonder: what's the difference between them? When do you use each one? And how do you actually make them? Knowing when to use each one is crucial in the product development process. It helps you put in the right amount of effort and deliver exactly what the customer wants.

What is a Wireframe?

Well, A wireframe is like a rough sketch of what a web page or app could look like. It's simple and doesn't focus much on colors or fancy designs. Instead, it shows where things should go and how they should be laid out. Wireframes are usually made with just black, white, and gray colors, either drawn by hand or made on a computer.

They're really relevant at the start of making a product. Instead of worrying about how it looks, wireframes help solve problems and figure out how everything should fit together.

During the wireframe stage, designers often ask people to test it out and give feedback. For example, in digital wireframes, they might use Lorem Ipsum (a pseudo-Latin text that acts as a placeholder for future content), to show where words will go, and ask questions like "What do you think should be here?" For paper wireframes, they might ask "What do you think will happen if you click this button?" 

Basically, wireframes help get the ideas out of your head and onto paper or a screen, so you can start figuring out how to make them real.

Pros & Cons 

Pros Cons 

Quick to build

Unsuitable for user testing

Saves Time and Money

Tricky to change a drawing

Determine Website Responsiveness

Does provide design limitations  

Prioritizes User Experience

Unnecessary Extra Step

What is a Mockup?

After making a wireframe, the next step is creating a mockup. A mockup is like a draft version of a website or an app. It's an early version that shows what the final thing might look like. Mockups can be used for lots of things, like showing off how something will work, teaching people about it, or even promoting it. They're also useful for turning ideas into designs. Mockups have the main structure and design elements, so they give a good idea of what the final website or app will be like.

Designers also make mockups to get feedback from others. Since mockups have colors and graphics, they give a better idea of how the final website or app will look. Mockups are usually still pictures, but sometimes they can be a little bit interactive, letting you do a few things to see how it works.

Pros & Cons 

Pros Cons 

Great visual tool for customers

Requires more time

More inspiring than wireframes

Needs polished content

Good for catching mistakes

Harder to revise

Content ready

Discourages iteration

What is a Prototype?

A prototype is the closest step in the design process to a finished digital product. It shows how a website or app will look, work, and how people will use it. It's more detailed than a mockup and focuses on how users will move around in it. As a high-fidelity design that helps gather feedback and test how people will use the final thing before it's fully made.

Prototypes are like the real-time feature, almost like having the actual website or app. They're the step-through, through which the theoretical idea comes to the practical one. That's why this process is called "materialization." Prototyping is an important step in turning ideas into something tangible, like a formal and improved version of the original idea.

Pros & Cons 

Pros Cons 

Pixel perfect


Realistic user testing


Easy to detect errors

Requires professional skills

Mimics the final product

Less flexible

Wireframe vs. Mockup vs. Prototype

When talking about these three, it's important to understand how they're different.

Wireframes are super simple. They're like a blueprint, just showing the basic structure of a product. No colors or fancy graphics, just the basics.

Mockups, on the other hand, are more detailed. They still don't move or do anything, but they look more real. You can see what the product will actually look like, with colors and graphics. 

Now, Prototypes are the final stage of any product before launching. They're interactive, so you can click around and see how things work. It's like using the real product, even though it's not quite finished yet.

So, you can think of it like this: wireframes are the starting point, mockups come next to add more detail, and prototypes are the final step before the real thing. They each serve a different purpose in making sure the product is just right before it's launched.

To explain the differences between those three, here’s the table to compare the differences between Wireframes, Mockups, & Prototypes

Aspect Wireframes Mockups Prototypes


Wireframes are basic outlines of a design layout.

Mockups are more detailed representations of a design.

Prototypes are the interactive representation of a design with functionality. 

Design quality





Used early in the design process to outline the structure & functionality of the product. 

Used in the middle stages to visualize the design elements & refine details.

Used later in the design process to test functionality & gather feedback. 


Easily adjustable

Somewhat flexible

Less flexibility

Time invested





Used by designers and developers

Useful for stakeholders and clients

Primarily for testing with users

Which Should I Use?

Now that we've talked about wireframes, mockups, and prototypes, let's figure out when to use each one during the design process.

It's essential to know that there's no strict order for using these things. It really depends on the project and the people working on it. We're just going to explain the usual steps for most products or websites.

When Should You Use Wireframes?

Wireframes are best used at the start of a mobile app design and development project. They're like rough sketches that show the basic layout and structure of what you're making. Wireframes are great for brainstorming and trying out different ideas. Since they don't have fancy graphics or colors, they focus on figuring out if the layout works for users, rather than the exact design.

You should use a wireframe when...

  • You need a quick sketch to show to your team or clients.
  • You're not an expert in design but still want to share your ideas.
  • You want to get the basics down.
  • You're exploring different ways to design something.

When to use Mockups?

You should use mockups when the designs and graphics for your product or webpage are all set and you want to show them off to the stakeholders. Mockups give a detailed look at how everything will look, including colors and graphics.

You should use mockups to...

  • See exactly how the final product will look
  • Make sure everyone agrees on the design
  • Sort out any problems before finalizing everything
  • Get your design team all on the same page

When Should You Use Prototypes?

Prototypes are like the last step before you finish making something. They show exactly how your idea will look and work, including some parts you can actually click on or use. You use prototypes right before you're ready to show off or launch your product or app.

Use prototypes for..

  • Checking if people will like using your product before you start making it
  • Making sure your product does what it's supposed to do
  • Trying it out with real people and getting their opinions
  • Showing what your finished product will be like to people who might want to invest in it

Tools Used for Wireframe vs. Mockup vs. Prototype

UX teams use many numerous tools throughout the design process, among them, some important are:

Tools for Creating Wireframes

  • Balsamiq: This tool is great for quickly sketching out ideas, like drawing on paper but digital.
  • Figma: It lets teams work together easily, making it simple to share and edit wireframes.

Tools for Creating Mockups

  • Adobe XD: This tool is super flexible and lets you do all sorts of designs and prototypes.
  • Figma: It's not just for wireframes; you can make colorful mockups too, and it's easy for teams to collaborate.

Tools to Create Prototypes

  • MockFlow: If you just need a simple clickable prototype to show how your app or website works, MockFlow is perfect.
  • InVision: InVision is known for being easy to use and for letting teams work together on prototypes.

Final Words 

To sum up, making any product, like a website or an app design, takes a lot of steps before it's ready for people to use. First, you start with the basic design, called a wireframe, which is like a simple outline of what the product will look like. You can sketch it out with a pen and paper or on a whiteboard.

Next, you move on to mockups, which are more detailed. They show what the website or app will actually look like, with icons, logos, and pictures. Mockups are like pictures of what the final thing will be, but they're not interactive. 

Finally, you get to the prototype stage. This is where the design becomes interactive, meaning people can actually click around and see how it works. Once the prototype is done, the design is ready to be turned into a real product. Even though these terms might seem similar, they each play a different role in designing a website or an app.

If you have an idea for an app or a website, TeamInIndia, a web development agency UK, can assist you make it happen. We're experts in building all kinds of apps for people worldwide. So, if you need help, don't hesitate to contact us.


1. What are the steps in designing a web page or application?

The design process starts with an idea, then moves on to creating wireframes. Once wireframes are approved, mockups are made. After mockup approval, a prototype is created. Finally, when the prototype is approved, the design is executed.

2. Is a wireframe the same as a mockup?

No, wireframes and mockups are different. Wireframes are simple sketches of the layout, while mockups are more detailed and closer to the final design.

3. Can you make a prototype with wireframes?

Yes, you can make a simple prototype using wireframes. These prototypes, called clickable wireframes, can show how the design flows.

4. What is the final stage of the design process and why?

The prototype is the final stage of the design process. Once the prototype is approved and feedback is gathered from users, the design is handed over to the product management team for implementation.

5. How to choose the right level of fidelity for my design?

The level of detail depends on your goal. If you want to discuss ideas with your team, low-fidelity designs like wireframes are sufficient. For user validation, high-fidelity designs like mockups and prototypes are better.

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