What is the difference between wireframing and prototyping?

  • What is the difference between wireframing and prototyping?

    Am I right to think that prototypes should be interactive and wireframes should be static?

    I think a prototype is an early usable version and a wireframe is a drawing.

  • I'm sure different people will have different views on how much or how little wireframes and prototypes overlap. What follows is how I approach the two:

    If you are considering an application or a website, and you look at the page level for example, a wireframe and a prototype are superficially the same things, from a physical perspective. They can both be low or high fidelity, on paper or digital medium. The wireframe may be a template for many pages or an unique page or screen. It is a page schematic.

    Once you look at the bigger picture and how multiple screens or pages connect together, and start considering the navigation between them and the less tangible aspects of usability and interaction then you are linking wireframes (plural) together to make a prototype. The prototype is a demonstrable system.

    The prototype can still be a single page or screen, but it embodies more of a sense of engagement rather than purely of visual appearance.

    So In my opinion where it differs is the mindset with which you approach the schematics:

       Are you thinking more along the lines of 'How does it look?' or 'What information and features are presented?' (wireframe).

       Or are you thinking 'How do I interact with this?' or 'How will it be used?' (prototype).

    Of course prototypes frequently refer to physical products, (again where the user engages with the product) whereas wireframes are typically for a screen based interaction, but I'm assuming the question is based on the difference relating to websites and software

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM