Chapter 20. Choose the Right Interface Model: Wireframes, Comps, or Prototypes

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Choose the Right Interface Model: Wireframes, Comps, or Prototypes?

Until now, we’ve used sketches to make interface models. You make a model, so you can Check it. Another way to say that is: you make interface models to answer a question. And since sketching helps teams think about three visible parts of the interface—the content, functionality, and layout—another way to say this is: you make sketches to answer questions about content, functionality, and layout.

A sketch is one type of interface model that lets you ask certain questions, but it isn’t the only way. You can model interfaces five ways. To answer the right questions, choose the model that offers the right fidelity to answer the right question.

Five Types of Interface Models (and the Actual Product)

Whenever you talk about an interface, you talk about either an actual interface, like the actual product, or an interface model, like a wireframe. The actual product is always the actual product. However, you can model an interface in other ways. In all, you have six ways to Check an interface:

  • Text descriptions
  • Sketches
  • Wireframes
  • Mockups (or visual comps/compositions)
  • Prototypes
  • The actual product

Each interface model offers a different level of fidelity. Knowing how the five types of interface models compare to the actual product helps you choose what model to Think-Make-Check when you collaborate with your client and team.

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