Any designer with years of experience knows what a mockup is and the value of mockups.
But if you’re just getting started in your design journey or if you’re a DIY type, you probably saw the term “mockup” before without really knowing what it means.
That’s why I put together this in-depth overview of mockups and also added a little how-to to help you create them. (Hint: You don’t always need Photoshop to make mockups!)
A mockup is a representation of what the finished product will look like.
It can be a full-size model of a design or a physical product or it can be a static representation of a website or an application.
What Is Mockup Design
Typically, a mockup will have all the design elements but without the functionality.
In essence, THANKS to a mockup, you’ll be able to see what the product will look like in the real world but you can’t interact with it in the same way.
For example, a website mockup will have colors, fonts, buttons, images, and other elements but you won’t be able to click on a button to see what happens.
Similarly, a t-shirt mockup allows you to see what the t-shirt will look like with your designs added to it but you can’t touch the mockup to feel the fabric it’s made of.
Mockup vs Wireframe vs Prototype
A mockup is often confused with two other terms: wireframes and prototypes.
However, the three are different and each of them fulfills a specific role in the design process.
Mockups come after wireframes which are typically black and white and show the basic functionality.
Wireframes act like a blueprint for the design — they show which elements need to be present in the design and how those elements are laid out.
Prototypes come after mockups. A prototype shows a simulation of the end product.
Prototypes incorporate both the design and the functionality to give you a realistic user experience of the finished product.
It can be the first draft of a page on a website or a test print of a t-shirt.
What Are The Benefits of Creating Mockups?
One of the biggest benefits of creating mockups is that you can easily make changes before moving on to the prototyping stage.
For example, with a mockup, you can easily move elements around to see what a different placement would look like, experiment with colors, and more.
Your CLIENTS can give feedback, request changes, and see how those changes would look like in the finished product.
Moreover, they can also COMPARE different mockup versions to decide which one will be the final version that moves into the development stage.
Ultimately, creating a mockup saves you and your clients money since they don’t have to develop several different versions of the product only to be unhappy with it and go back to the drawing board.
It also saves A TON of time during the final development and build-out process as you don’t have to restart the development from scratch each and every time.
Instead, you can test changes on a mockup and then develop the final version once.
How to Create a Mockup?
So now you know what a mockup is and the benefits of creating a mockup. You also know the difference between a mockup, a wireframe, and a prototype.
Now, let’s talk about how you can create a mockup.
1. Use A Design Program
You can create a mockup from scratch using a design program like Adobe Photoshop. This method is time-consuming but it will also give you the most control over your mockup design.
You can use all of Photoshop’s tools such as shapes, text, filters, colors, and more to create your mockup.
If you opt for this route, be sure to use a layered PSD file to create your mockup so you can easily make edits later on.
2. Use A Mockup Template
If you don’t want to start from scratch, there are 1,000s of mockup templates you can download online.
Most of these mockup templates will have all the elements in place so all you’d need to do is add your design. In some cases, you’ll be able to customize the template to use your preferred colors or fonts.
You can find both free and premium mockups on our website, suitable for a variety of industries. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to download and use Photoshop to edit the mockup template with your design.
3. Use An Online Mockup Generator
Placeit has a wide range of mockups that you can use. In this case, it’s similar to premade mockup templates but doesn’t require you to download and learn Photoshop.
In other words, you can create a mockup without Photoshop.
All you have to do is pick a mockup, add your design, and download it. You can download it for a one-time fee or sign up for the membership if you plan on creating a lot of mockups.
A mockup is an essential part of the design process that is sometimes entirely skipped.
However, having a mockup in place allows you to design intentionally, experiment with different design ideas, and easily make adjustments until you’re happy with the end result.
It also benefits your clients as it allows them to give feedback without unnecessarily dragging out the actual development and spending heaps of money.
The only thing left to do now is to implement mockups in your design process.