Essential Guide to UI/UX Mockup
By Shormistha Chatterjee, Community Contributor - March 1, 2023
A great website mockup aids in visualizing web User Interface concepts, effectively accelerates the whole product design-to-development procedure, and defines crucial facets to ensure better UX.
So why bother making the application or web look pretty during the mockup UI design phase? What do UX mockups enable designers to do? Let us explore this in detail.
What is a Mockup UI?
UI/UX Mockup presents a website or application’s user interface and user experience. The mockup is an essential part of the design process.
- It is a prototype of a product or service that allows product designers to test out their ideas and get user feedback.
- It can be used to create realistic simulations of the final product, allowing designers to ensure that their designs meet the user’s needs and expectations.
- It illustrates how the user will interact with the product and how it will look visually.
- Mockups are typically created using mockup UI tools such as Adobe XD, Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, or Figma.
- They are usually used during development to help designers and developers visualize the product’s appearance before it is built out.
- Mockups of UI/UX can also be used to test different design ideas before committing to one design.
A mockup typically comprises added visual details such as:
- Component spacing
- Styled buttons & text
- Colors, graphics, styles, and typography
- Navigation graphics
Mockups are crucial tools to understand and communicate what the final interface must look like and give stakeholders an option to preview style and design choices before committing to building the application in a functional prototype. And, between idea, improvement, and development, there are usually three or four distinct design phases.
At a glance, the phases break down something like this:
- UI sketching lets designers function through all their worst ideas & single out the ideas with great potential.
- Wireframes are wherein the data hierarchy, content alignment, and core functionality are worked out.
- Mockups comprise visual descriptions.
- Prototypes bring together interactivity and visuals in a real-free version of the end product
Such phases let UI designers for iterating and testing on their ideas rapidly and inexpensively and get sign-off from stakeholders. Besides, this is not exclusively applicable to brand-new products. These four phases can be applied to new versions or interface updates too.
What are UI/UX Mockups for?
Mockups are a crucial part of the designing thinking procedure as they answer vital visual questions (such as color, layout, and hierarchy) and let designers commence high-fidelity prototyping. It also offers engineers a visual reference to start the development stage.
Mockups also offer:
- Significant stakeholder reaction: Thanks to the great fidelity, mockups necessitate lesser context than low-fidelity sketches and wireframes, giving stakeholders the correct representation of the end product.
- Flexibility: It’s simpler to make changes to a mockup UI by using a design tool than by editing code. If product designers function with a design system or UI element library, making alterations is as easy as rearranging the layout or swapping components.
- Realistic perspective: Mockups disclose issues that may not have been obvious during low-fidelity wireframing, such as poor color choices, accessibility considerations, or layout issues.
When to use UI Mockups?
UI mockups are handy when creating new products or features, as they allow designers to experiment with different design ideas without investing in costly development cycles.
- It generally follows wireframes and paper prototyping (the low-fidelity stage) in the website design procedure, but this isn’t always the case.
- Product designers using established design structures or UI kits often keep an eye on handwritten notes in building mockups, skipping the lo-fi stage completely.
- Skipping the low-fidelity stage & going straight to mockups is an innovative method and requires wide experience and familiarity with the product, so it is better to follow the oldest methodology of paper>wireframes>mockups>collaborating prototypes.
- Completing wireframing and paper prototyping first allows you to figure out crucial facets such as the number of layouts, screens, flows, navigation, CTAs, and information architecture.
- Forming mockups and moving onto high-fidelity prototyping is faster and simpler
Read More: How to speed up UI Test Cases
Best Practices to Create UI/UX Mockups
Here are some best practices for User Interface design and generating mockups. Such principles apply to website design, mobile apps, product design, as well as other digital mockups GUI.
Draft or Draw ideas first
With this technique, you can try distinct ideas quickly, rather than attempting to assemble something in a web design program. By different ideas & hitting them next to each other, you can acquire a sense of what will look superior. The obvious advantage of this practice is it can accelerate the procedure and give you extra direction when you dive into the real mock-up.
Choose the Correct Fonts
Fonts that work on Windows don’t always look good on macOS. Besides, some fonts seem better on a Mac but won’t render at all on Windows. This is why it is critical to choose the correct fonts and also opt for compatibility testing.
Mobile-first website design prioritizes content while minimizing pointless components and traits. Scaling down from PC often leads to discrepancies or designers compromising to follow reduced screen sizes.
Leverage Proper Design Tools
Design tools have loads of features to make designing and prototyping easier. Read the citations/ documentation to learn shortcuts & leverage features for building the best mockups. This has numerous benefits, and multiple mock-up tools are accessible to mock the UI for mobile apps and eventually conduct visual tests.
Use Smart Objects
As vector-based images can be resized to fit any resolution (without losing excellence), they are perfect for mockups. Particularly those that require a desktop and mobile design. This is why you wish to use vector images when required. Moreover, vector graphics can scale rapidly. This means they can adapt to the highest-definition, retina screens 2 or 3 times their size.
Preview distinct-sized devices
Once you have completed your design, it is a great idea to test it on diverse-sized devices. As well as diverse brands. Preferably, you would like to see how it looks on an Apple and Android phone and on desktops.
This will give you a pretty good indication of what a mockup will look like on all gadgets after they have been printed, coded, or posted on social media.
Read More: UI Testing Tools and Techniques
3 Types of Mockups Tools
There are three key tools for creating mockups– mockup apps, graphic design software, and coded mockups. Each mockup form has its benefits and drawbacks.
1. Mockup Tools
Specialized user experience web design tools offer designers the traits to build mockups rapidly, particularly if they have the elements library or design system. With such mock-up tools, you can easily drag and drop elements from the design system or built-in design libraries for building mockups. Designers can also generate layouts for distinct screen sizes, such as mobile (Android/ iOS), desktop, or tablet.
2. Graphic Design Software
Some web designers still prefer to build mockups via graphic design software, such as Photoshop. The issue with design software is that you cannot add interactions or animations, so you have to recreate the mockups in another app to begin prototyping.
With proper tools integration, you do not need to learn code to design in code. Web designers can easily drag and drop MUI’s elements for building mockups and functioning prototypes.
Also Read: What is Automated UI testing?
Choosing a Good UI Mockup Tool
When selecting a UI mockup tool, consider some crucial factors before committing to anything.
- Usage: Choosing a tool that fits your design procedure is important. For instance, use Photoshop or sketch. The mockup tools must import such files rather than separately exporting assets & then building the whole thing from scratch.
- Learning curve: Any tool can be extensively used based on how calmly it is to adopt it with its vibrant features.
- Collaboration: Design relies deeply on collaboration thus, the mockup tool should make it effortless to collaborate across teams.
- Cost: Another point to consider is that fits our requirements and also takes care of basic features for free. There can be a few critical traits that are paid, but it is up to the product designer to go for them or not.
- Fidelity: Depending on whether you must mockup the app layout or some complicated connections, one can categorize the project necessities as high, medium, or low fidelity.
Must-Read: How to select the right Visual Testing Tool
What is Mockup testing?
Mockup testing is when you put the prototype or mockup in front of your niche audience and test its usability (UX) and design (UI). Very often, you have to test the way a mockup looks.
Does a site look clean or cluttered? Is the main menu simple to locate? With a high-fidelity mockup or prototype, users can click buttons and check how they feel while navigating your application or site. Mockup testing is crucial to generate a user-friendly mobile app or website, and it’s a step you should not skip.
- Once the mobile User Interface mockups are validated, and the application is developed, you must test it to validate if its functionalities and features are functioning as expected.
- Conduct automated and manual testing using BrowserStack App Automate, BrowserStack App Live, App Percy, and Percy.
- No matter what Mobile UI mockup tool you turn out using, use BrowserStack real device cloud for prompt access to an extensive range of real Android and iOS gadgets for more accurate test results.
The mockup phase in web development is often left behind. And, there is high value for any software development team to break down mockup formation into its stage. By generating mockups and iterating on the created web designs, a team enables itself to be intentional about the design selections it makes for a page.
It allows the aesthetics of a given web page to be analyzed by stakeholders in manifold roles offers feedback and makes the web page as best as possible.