Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Website Mockup
Is a website mockup a fully functional draft version of a site, or something else? Learn about it here. Plus discover how & where to create your mockup website!
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It’s a long road from the first idea of a website until it’s launched live. And right in the middle of that process is the task of creating a website mockup. How to create a website mockup, and what is a website mockup in the first place? We’re here to answer your questions.
Websites have numerous elements, including layouts, interaction design, CTA buttons, forms, hero sections, colors, shapes, and more. So, besides designing everything, a web designer also has to make sure these elements work well together.
A draft design usually helps with this, and in web design, this is called a mockup website.
What is a website mockup and why do you need it?
A website mockup is a visual representation or a rough draft of a website's design. It is typically created during the early stages of web development to help stakeholders, designers, and developers visualize the structure, layout, and overall look and feel of a website before it is actually built.
The most important thing to remember is that a mockup website is static (although sometimes designers add animated elements to a website mockup to help users visualize the end result).
So, website mockups are used to focus on visual aspects, including the color scheme, typography, imagery, and overall user interface. They are often created using graphic design software or a specialized website mockup tool.
Website mockups serve several purposes, including:
- Communication: Mockups help designers and stakeholders communicate and align their vision for the website. They provide a tangible reference point to discuss and refine the design, ensuring everyone involved has a shared understanding of the website's aesthetics and functionality.
- Evaluation and feedback: Mockups allow stakeholders to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement before the development phase begins. This helps identify potential issues, make necessary adjustments, and save time and resources that would otherwise be spent on making changes during development.
- Planning and organization: Mockups assist in planning the structure and layout of a website. They help determine the placement of elements such as navigation menus, headers, footers, content sections, and interactive components, ensuring a logical and user-friendly experience.
- User testing: Mockups can be used to conduct user testing sessions, where potential users interact with the design and provide feedback on its usability. This feedback helps identify areas that may require improvement or optimization before the actual website development begins.
How to create a website mockup?
So before we get into the steps of creating a mockup website, there’s one important question we must answer. When do you need a website mockup?
There are several stages to creating a website. But, generally speaking, you’ll need a website mockup after wireframing and before you begin programming (a quick reminder for those not in the know - wireframes are the first rough drafts of a website that only serve to show the layout).
It goes without saying when you begin creating a website mockup, you’ll need to have a brand identity design, including colors, typography, and logo variations.
So, without further ado - let’s go into the steps of how to put together a website mockup!
Step 1: Research and gather inspiration
Since a mockup website is focused on the visual aspect, you’ll need plenty of food for thought to create it.
Make sure you cast a wide net when seeking website design inspiration. Look at the best examples of websites from your industry, as well as other unrelated fields. Instead of focusing only on the general idea of a website, pay attention to details and decide if there’s anything you’d like to copy.
Step 2: Wireframing
As we’ve mentioned, creating a website layout is called wireframing. Since most websites contain multiple pages, this step helps to understand the processes users can go through in using the site.
Wireframes also contain placeholders for images that are added when creating a mockup website.
Since wireframes are pretty basic, it’s pretty easy to find free wireframe tools where you can grab an easy template to customize, such as this one from Uizard.
Step 3: Create information architecture
Wireframes contain the basic layout, but deciding what type of content will be added to each page requires meticulous planning.
This is called information architecture, or how information is grouped and presented for optimal user experience. In this step, you should decide on the main sections and subsections of the website, and how they will be accessed through the navigation menu. Consider the logical flow of information and ensure easy navigation for users.
Step 4: Design individual elements
Website design isn’t just another graphic design project. Oftentimes, there will be several different types of designers working on a single website, such as an illustrator, UI designer, type designer, animator, and more.
So, before you start putting everything together in a website mockup, you’ll need to have all of the individual elements ready. Some of these might include:
- Hero images/illustrations
- CTA buttons
- Color palettes
Step 5: Add the elements to the wireframe
Finally, it’s time to assemble your mockup! Go page-by-page and add all the elements. Consider the spacing and alignment of elements. White space in web design is vital to ensure a good user experience.
You should also keep design consistent across all pages. For example, CTA buttons should always be in 1-2 colors (2 for different actions). The same goes for forms, icons, navigation bars, and other elements that appear on several pages.
If you already have a finalized version of your content, add that to the mockup as well. Alternatively, use dummy text to populate the page. Don’t forget that a mockup should look as close as possible to the final version of the website, so it’s crucial to understand how text will be presented on the page as well.
Step 6: Refine and present
What’s the point of mockup design, again? It’s to show all relevant stakeholders what the finished website will look like.
So, once a website mockup is usually created to be shared and receive feedback. Once the web designer is done with work, it’s time for marketers, business strategists, or even just design clients to give their two cents.
Best website mockup tools
Unlike simple wireframes that can be created with pen and paper, for this task, you’ll need a professional website mockup tool.
Here are some handy tools you may wish to consider.
If you’re at all familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite, you’ll know there's software for virtually any type of design. Adobe XD is a web design tool, suitable for both Windows and macOS.
It’s a powerful design and prototyping tool that allows you to create interactive website mockups. It offers features like artboard-based design, responsive resizing, symbols, interactive transitions, and collaboration features, which can be particularly useful for web design mockups.
If you’re looking for free website mockup tools, Figma is a great option. No matter what level of design expertise, you’re at, Figma is very easy to use. It also offers features like vector editing, prototyping, responsive design, real-time collaboration, and developer handoff.
The free version is limited to only 3 files, so if you’re planning to work on multiple website mockups, you might need to purchase a subscription.
You should also check out Figma’s community section, whether to get design inspiration or find free-to-use Figma files that you can adapt for your own project.
If you’re a macOS user, Sketch is a website mockup tool to keep your eyes on. Sketch is a powerful website design program, which can help you save considerable time with rendering, as it’s often faster than Adobe.
Unlike Adobe software, Sketch also requires a one-time fee payment, so it might turn out to be cheaper in the long run.
A wireframing tool that focuses on simplicity and rapid prototyping. It provides a library of pre-built UI elements, drag-and-drop functionality, and collaboration features.
You can use it as a web-based app with a monthly subscription, or purchase and download the software for as little as $129 (prices increase depending on the number of users).
MockFlow is a web-based wireframing and collaboration tool suitable for creating website mockups. It provides a wide range of UI elements, collaboration features, and integrations with other design tools.
It also allows you to easily create site maps, which can be pretty handy in creating information architecture. It does have a free version, but it’s quite limited as there’s a limit on the number of design files you can work with. However, it might be a good idea to test it out and see if you like it as a website mockup tool.
Axure is probably best known as a prototyping tool, which allows you to create and test fully functional websites and digital products. However, you can also use it to create website mockups to determine how you want your web design to look.
Pricing starts at $29 per month per user (or $25 if billed annually), so it’s fairly inexpensive if you don’t have a particularly large team.
Moqups is another cloud-based design tool that offers wireframing and prototyping features. It includes features like a drag-and-drop interface, collaboration, version history, and export options.
It’s also pretty inexpensive (including a totally free plan) and offers some great wireframe templates, so you can start creating your website mockup in no time!
Is there anything you can’t do with Photoshop? Although it’s not most designers’ first choice, it’s perfectly possible to create high-quality website mockups even with Photoshop.
It offers a wide range of design tools, layers, filters, and export options, although bear in mind that it’s a raster graphics editor, so some images may not scale as well.
We hope this gives you enough information to start working on your website mockup. There are plenty of great website templates available online that you can use to get started.
If you need any help customizing templates or creating custom graphics, our design team can help out with your website design at an affordable monthly rate!
Check out some of the websites we’ve created here.
Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.