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Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype - What's the difference?

Wireframe, Mockup and Prototype - What's the difference?

If you’ve been exploring bespoke software development for your business and have learnt a little about the software development process, then you will have probably encountered a number of technical terms. Three of these terms are wireframe, mockup and prototype, and each describes a key stage in the development process. They’re sometimes confused, but each represents a different stage of the design flow. 

What are they, and how do they differ from each other?


Wireframe is the most basic means by which to efficiently outline structures and layouts. It provides a visual representation of the design but doesn’t need to focus too much on the minutiae. It should, however, express design ideas, making sure that no important aspects are left out. 

A wireframe provides a basic framework that helps the software development team gain a better understanding of the project and how it’s likely to develop. This is a simple building block of the whole software development process, and much of what follows is built upon it.


A mockup is a static design diagram that demonstrates information frames and statically presents content and functions. It differs from a wireframe in that it looks more like a finished product or prototype. Unlike a prototype, it isn’t interactive and clickable. Instead, it provides a graphic representation. 

A mockup can help both the software development team and those commissioning the project to get a better idea of how the finished product will look. It allows the team to review the project visually while allowing for any changes and developments that are deemed necessary after the mockup has been reviewed. 


By the time the project reaches the prototype stage, it is getting very close to the finished product. This is the stage at which processes can be simulated and user interaction can be tested. 

Early prototyping can reduce development costs and the time taken for the whole software development process. It ensures that the work of back-end product architecture will not be in vain due to an inefficient or unreasonable user interface design. A prototype will be used to obtain user feedback and to test the product in real-world circumstances. 

The prototype will flag up any lingering issues or challenges that need to be addressed before it can move on to the final stages of development and ultimate deployment.

Why all of these stages matter

Bespoke software development is a complicated process that requires close attention to detail, collaboration and revision. The different elements of the process need to be verified, assessed and reviewed, and wireframes, mockups and prototypes all give the development team a key set of information and feedback about how the project is progressing. 

As with every stage of the process, they help to ensure that time and money isn’t wasted on correcting significant issues that could have been prevented.

At InTeck, we combine creativity with an agile and systematic approach to developing bespoke software solutions for our clients. 

Contact us today to find out more about how we can bring your vision to life.

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