What Is a Website Mockup?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore what a website mockup is and how it can be a valuable tool in your UX career.

[Featured image] A website designer works on a website mockup on her desktop computer.

The process of designing and developing a website can seem lengthy, with the creation of the website plan, testing, collecting user experience data, and finally launching it to the public. All of these steps are integral to creating a successful website, however, and the mockup stage is an essential part of the process as you realize your design. Once the initial design sketch has transitioned into a wireframe, you have already created the foundation for your mockup. Before the developers step in, the mockup is a useful tool for user experience (UX) designers to visualize how your website will look and what still requires editing in terms of design.

This article takes a closer look at website mockups, their importance in the design process, and some website mockup tools that can help support you in website design and development.

What is a website mockup?

A website mockup is a full-size mid-to-high fidelity design model that acts as a visualization tool for the website’s final design. Mockups build upon the initial design sketch and the low-fidelity design that depicts the basic user interface elements. The mockup is a static image representing the website’s visual appearance. It typically includes the page’s main features like the design layouts, fonts, text, and colors but does not include animations or working links. As a UX designer, a mockup offers you a strategy for showing your clients the direction the website is heading to ensure they are happy with the overall design and visual representation.

Why do you need a website mockup?

If you are designing a website, the mockup is a crucial step because it helps you develop your website with greater care and more attention to detail. Positioned between the low-fidelity design and the high-fidelity interactive design of the website, it marks a pivotal stage in the design process.

By creating a mockup, you can demonstrate your creative ideas and plans for the website before developing the dynamic and animated parts. It also allows you to understand how users will experience your website before officially releasing it.  Providing your clients with a realistic interpretation of the site before the final design is necessary, and the higher the quality of your mockup, the more you can showcase the creativity and uniqueness of your site.

Pros and cons of website mockups

The advantages of a website mockup are numerous. A mockup can help you present a fully-fledged design idea to your clients before taking the time to create a working website. Doing so allows you and the client to agree on final edits or elements that could require modifications before the website’s completion. Additionally, if you are working on your own, it lets you assess your happiness with the potential final product. The mockup provides a realistic expectation of what the final product may look like and allows you to work on a timely basis while making easy and quick revisions if needed.

One of the disadvantages of creating a mockup is the time it takes to design multiple drafts of the final website. Making a mockup after the sketch and wireframe can seem repetitive and sometimes unnecessary. Mockups can result in your client going back and forth over website details, taking time away from completing the final product. It can also cost you and your client more as you continue to edit and update the website. Mockups can be generic as they do not include the complete details of a fully customized website. As a static product, they cannot perform the basic functionality your client may wish to see, and their simplicity can sometimes leave out important content or details.

Mockup vs. prototype

As a UX designer or website creator, you will encounter mockups and prototypes while developing a fully functioning website. Mockups can act as a static visual representation, while prototypes create a more dynamic and functioning model similar to the final product. When prioritizing website design and user flow, crafting a mockup version can benefit you if the client is interested in visual details.

You can also create a mockup through a website mockup generator that will use a customizable template. This way, you can adjust to the client’s needs in a time-efficient manner. A mockup can be mid or high-fidelity, depending on your timeline and resources, so you’ll decide whether it’s necessary to your specific UX design process.

The benefits of a prototype include demonstrating functionality in a high-fidelity design to your clients. It’s a closer design to the final product than the mockup. Still, it depends on your process whether you want to create a mockup prior to a prototype. The entire design process focuses on creating a mockup for design purposes first, then using the prototype to test the usability and the design. It is beneficial for you to use both stages when designing and testing the functionality of your website, but the process is ultimately up to you and your client’s needs and resources.

Website mockup tools

You can use a number of different tools to create your website mockup. These are some user-friendly or more popular website mockup tools used by user interface (UI) and UX professionals.

1. Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a tool for low-fidelity UI wireframing and mockups, mimicking website design on a whiteboard. It focuses on structure and content, giving you creative control over your website and allowing you to sketch ideas in an informal format. You can use the free trial version of Balsamiq before deciding whether to pay for the full version.

2. Mockplus

Mockplus is a UI design tool and also a great website tool for beginners in UI or UX design. With Mockplus, you can quickly build and customize responsive mockups and collaborate with other developers to gain feedback. This tool has a free version for solo designers and a paid version that supports multiple users on a single project.

3. Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a prototyping and mockup tool that allows you to build a fully functioning prototype after creating your website mockup. The multiple capabilities of mockup to prototype and the no-cost option makes this a popular website mockup tool. Adobe XD has various learning materials available and is a user-friendly design option.

Learn more about UX design

As a UX designer or aspiring computer developer, you will need to advance your computer design skills before creating a website. On Coursera, you can find courses like the Google UX Design Professional Certificate, which can help you learn the fundamentals of UX design and apply those concepts as you become more familiar with the design process. Through this course, you will learn the basics of UX research and create a professional UX website mockup for portfolios, leading to the design and development of a fully functioning website.

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