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Why do mock-ups exist?

Jeremy Keith on mock-ups:

Here’s my take, is that there’s just three reasons a mock-up could exist: One is that it’s for buy-in, it’s basically for sign-off. You’re mocking something up to present it to a decision-maker who then says thumbs up or thumbs down, so that’s this decision-making thing, I guess what Dan could be talking about, deciding in the mock-up. That’s use number one.

Use number two is it’s a deliverable for a front end developer, so in other words they’re something a visual designer gives to a front end developer to get turned into code, so that’s a separate use-case.

Then there’s a third use of a mock-up, which is for a visual designer to think. They have a tool that they’re comfortable with, like Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, whatever and it’s the fastest way for them to get ideas down is to create a mock-up.

Jeremy Keith, Episode 12 of Style Guide Podcast

In the responsive web projects, creating mock-ups is very time consuming. For deciding the visual design directions we utilize style tiles or visual inventory methods. Coming to the second use case—for handing over design—the problem with mock-ups Jeremy elaborate as:

Now here’s problem number one, is that mock-ups made for the first use-case end up getting used for the second. So, if you’re designing for sign-off, everything’s perfect: everything lines up at the top and the bottom, it’s exactly the right amount… everything looks beautiful. It’s not a real test of the edge cases of content. And unless you then make further mock-ups that are more accurate and reflect the real situation with content and you just hand over this perfect situation to developers, well, everyone’s just going to get disappointed: the developers are going to be frustrated because it’s not accurate, the designer’s frustrated because, hey, that doesn’t look like my mock-up, and the client is frustrated because that doesn’t look like what they were presented with.

Jeremy Keith, Episode 12 of Style Guide Podcast

I only recommend using mock-ups for the third use case.