Wireframes, Moodboards, and Mockups: What’s the Difference?

If your website needs an overhaul, it can be overwhelming—and it’s certainly not an overnight job. Where do you even begin when you have to scrap the whole thing? It’s not even a “this month” job—usually, rolling out a new website can take months to prepare, approve, and code before the big launch. But it’s all worth it—because the last thing you want is to cut corners only to find errors, missing pages, or incorrect content, all of which can lead to lower traffic and missed sales opportunities.

Unsure of where to begin with your new website project? Let’s see if we can help soften the blow with some professional advice. There are three important steps to building a new website that you can’t skip: wireframes, moodboards, and mockups. You’ll also need a design and UX professional to help you with these.

Let’s take a closer look at these key elements, how they’re different, and just how important they are to the new website design process.

Wireframes

You can think of wireframes as the blueprint for your new website. Visually, they won’t be very detailed, but they play a crucial role in helping you understand where content, pictures, and links will be. Sometimes, this can be as simple as drawing rough sketches on a whiteboard, but the process should never be skipped.

It’s important that you not get lost in the weeds of the visual design before you know how you want your website to be structured. Wireframes help you organize your content into logical blocks so you can more easily create the actual aesthetics and designs for your site once the structure is determined. Thus, unlike products of later design stages, wireframes don’t include any imagery, style, or fancy fonts. Rather, they define barebones content for your new website and give your designer a canvas to work with.

Moodboards

Once you have your blueprint, you can begin to dabble in design. Moodboards are used when you start thinking about fonts, style, and the visual presentation of your site. If you’re redesigning your logo, this is often when that would happen as well. By looking at your wireframes, you can begin to stylize fonts and place imagery in the exact places you reserved earliere.

During this process, your designer will work closely with you to understand your goals for how your website should look. Do you have a certain color scheme, preferred font, or photo style? A good designer will be able to take your ideas and bring them to life on a moodboard.

Mockups

Now you have your blueprint and aesthetic plan—two important design process steps down, with one left to go! Mockups are basically an exact replica of how your website is going to look once it’s coded and published on the web. You’ll take your wireframes and moodboard ideas together and build your website—just without the coding.

At this stage, most of the hard work of brainstorming is finished, and you can just implement all the great ideas you came up with in the first two stages. What makes mockups so powerful is that they’re very easy to change if needed, unlike an actual, coded website. Maybe you had an idea for a certain section that, once it’s been put on paper, doesn’t quite look like how you had imagined. That’s no problem! Your designer can work with you to make it perfect.

This is important because coding a website takes time, and usually involves a few hiccups in the process. If you code your website without a mockup, you may decide to change a section and end up days behind schedule while trying to write new code or resolve any bugs. Mockups eliminate this headache because you don’t write a single line of code until the design has been perfected. Then, when the coding process begins, you know that you’ve got your dream website ready to go conceptually.

This isn’t to say that you’ll never want to make changes to your site’s code—that can always happen! But, you usually won’t make any drastic changes to the foundational sections of your site that could cause coding delays. With the mockups ready, it allows for your developers to hit the ground running and build your website within your scoped timeline. In turn, this helps you get you on the web more quickly so you can start bringing in leads.

Getting It Right

Want to learn more about wireframes, moodboards, mockups, or the entire web design process? Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to run you through our process and show how our team can reinvent the way your online audience views your brand.