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.

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