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Are mockups essential?


Junior Member
I was just interested to know whether most people here use photoshop or similar to always mock up their designs before creating the final site in a code editor.

Would you say a mock up is essential? Or just trial and error the design through pure code editing?

If you don't have photoshop what else could you use to mock up the design? Does anyone use pen/paper and then straight to the editor?

Im just after some common ground rules for my new adventure.
Personally yes. I think that when dealing with a client they are sometimes going to have to make a design change which isn't easy / simple. Redoing the whole design from scratch would take too much time, so working from a mock up and see if they like that would probably work best.


Staff member
My opinion - yes and no, sometimes a mockup is needed to portray an idea, sometimes it isn't, it really depends on what the client is like. Admittedly slightly different with 3D but I've got clients who just say here's the thing we want an image of, they say the style of work, ie clean white background or in situation etc and then just leave me to it, others want to be more hands on with the overall feel (usually just pen and paper to start with).

At the very least you should use pen and paper to 'portray' an idea and it's always useful to have some sort of reference to work from.

With my new website (slow but steady eventually finishes lol) I'm working on it was basically a sketch on paper and then code, it didn't exactly need time in photoshop to sort out the design layout because it's overall design is fairly simple (Alex will understand this), plus as it was for me it was never going to stay true to a mockup because you know what designers are like, things can always change as you're working on something.
They're essential if you want a seamless process when dealing with clients, otherwise it can see you re-coding an entire site because of major change requests which could have been delivered in the PSD mock phase.

Each to their own, though, of course.
I find it easier to just use wireframes, as I find it quicker to code up html and css rather than spending hours in photoshop. I find that you can spend too long doing a mockup, And the client seems to change their mind when they see the site live (my experience). Each to their own.
Hi Luke,

From a commercial perspective, you need to show your idea evolving before it is too late to change anything, in this sense mockups are going to help other people within an organisation appreciate and critique the design. The problem with coding is that you run the risk of not finding a way to display the designs or worse having it break in some executive's ancient browser. Keep it a JPEG.
Hi Luke,

I agree with everyone else that it's pretty critical to produce mockups, especially in a commercial setting. It's very important to be able to show clients an original design, and then changes and evolution before coding something. This is because, in my experience anyway, clients will often change their minds. It's much easier to move a box around in a psd.
For me, Mockups are an import part of the process. It depends on how your company works and flexible you are with changes. You could have an agreed stage where any drastic changes after a restrcited.
For me there are two ways to approach the design of a website.

Start always with a sitemap and wireframes then:

1. Produce comprehensive mock ups in photoshop

High fidelity mock ups show the client exactly how their site will appear once developed but are increasingly time consuming especially now we must consider mobile and tablet layouts. Most clients budgets simply don't stretch that far.

2. Provide style tiles prepared in photoshop then proceed to develop prototypes in the browser.

Style tiles are relatively quick to put together but require the client to use their imagination a bit. A concept some clients have serious trouble with. However, they do allow us to give visual indications of the sites look and feel whilst remaining flexible should requirements change later in the development process. They are useful when the budget is low and allow us to move into the development process a lot quicker.

Each method has its merits and either way, something visual must be presented to the client early on so that they buy in to the process. People in general respond better to visuals than descriptions... as the saying goes 'a picture paints a thousand words'.


Active Member
Yes, I always create mock ups to show layout, this way there are no come backs, you get the client to agree with style layout etc and then start the build, from experience if you go ahead and build a working template, as people have mentioned about. some changes would require you to redesign the layout and all that time would be wasted, at least when you have a mock up that has been signed off you can always use this as back up.