When you work in an industry and you make constant efforts to stay ahead of things you notice things that bother you. I am going to focus on one of those things today which is static mockups. I am not going to say that static mockups don’t have a place in web design because they certainly do. If you need to get a visual point across quickly to a client, a static mockup is much easier for general design choices. But the point of this post is to cover why clients prefer a prototype style mockup over a static visual mockup.
Why Are Live Prototype Mockups Preferred?
What makes websites special is they are interactive. If I give my client a photo or a screenshot then they don’t get to click around and see what the experience feels like. Does this mean you need to give your client a finished product as a mockup? It depends on the details. If it fits your workflow and it takes you little to no time to start from scratch then, by all means, the more polish the better. What a lot of web designers do, myself included is show their client a handful of websites and asking some prompting questions to be able to get that mockup in the realm of what they want.
Now there is a major question that many web designers will ask.
How Will I Possibly Have Time For Fully Featured Prototypes?
That depends entirely on your workflow and what kind of websites you are selling. If it’s WordPress websites, then pick or build a basic theme that is highly customizable and easy for you to work with. If you have more of an active role and work with hand-coded websites, look at one of the popular frameworks like Bootstrap and start there. To go a bit deeper, it also really depends on how much of the mockup needs to be re-usable. If you will use none of the code in a final version there are lots of tools to do that, the one that comes to mind is Adobe Muse.
Where Should I Still Use Static Mockups?
Let’s go back to what I previously mentioned. Getting a point across quickly. This is for those clients that are demanding. They need to see something faster than you could implement it. That’s where static mockups come into play. If you want to take that extra step of effort I would use them in conjunction with a live mockup as placeholders to show you client ideas that could be explored. So to summarize it I would say static mockups are better used for small pieces of a bigger idea, or to show something that is in a completely different direction than what you’ve been working on. Iterative design benefits most from static visualizations.
I hope you have found this post insightful somewhat and if I help even one person with their business it’s worth it. I don’t claim to be an expert and this is all just my own thoughts, so I encourage you to take what I have shared and use it to come to your own conclusions about how to implement these things. I also encourage any questions via facebook, twitter or email.
Also published on Medium.