On the other hand, it's exciting to see a website come to life, from an idea in one designer's head to a fully realized online presence. A mockup is a stage in the website design process where the final product truly begins to take shape.

Free webpage mockups provide the first clear picture of how a website will appear to you and your colleagues. Mockups are often overlooked because they are located in the middle of the design process. However, it is an important step that all web designers should be aware of.

This guide will explain what a mockup is, when you should make one, and how to make one. Then, we'll recommend some tools for creating mockups and converting notepad pages into web pages.

  • Free webpage mockup design

A static visual model of what a web page, website, or web application will look like in its final form is a free webpage mockup. A mockup is intended to look like the finished product, but it is not yet functional (you cannot interact with it).

A free webpage mockup will typically include a site's main layouts, page elements, branding, colours, fonts, and content such as text and images (though placeholder content such as lorem ipsum text and stock images may be used), with the goal of simulating the final website for designers, developers, product managers, clients, and other stakeholders.

Importantly, a free webpage mockup is static — it demonstrates how a website appears but not how it functions. It lacks moving elements such as animations, pop-ups, image sliders, clickable buttons, and working links. These are incorporated into the design later in the prototyping phase and, ultimately, in the final website.

webpage-mock-frame

When do You Create Free Webpage & Website Mockups

Free website mockups are created in the middle of the website development process? While approaches to site development differ, the majority will include five broad phases: ideation and research, wireframing, mockups, prototyping, and programming.

Website and product designers determine what the website needs to accomplish and what it needs to include to satisfy the client and users during the ideation/research phase.

The team will then create wireframes. A wireframe is a website blueprint that maps out the basic functionality, elements, content, and layout. It serves as a foundation for designers to add visual elements on top. Wireframes can be of low or high quality. The wireframe on the left in the example below is low-fidelity, while the one on the right is high-fidelity:

Mockups are the stage following wireframes in which low-fidelity sketches are fleshed-out website designs. A mockup expands on the basic layouts of a wireframe by adding content, branding, and styling. Designers will also receive feedback from stakeholders and iterate on their mockup designs before moving on to prototypes.

Mockups, like wireframes, can have varying degrees of fidelity. On the left is a low-fidelity mockup, and on the right is a high-fidelity mockup:

The mockup is transformed into a high-fidelity, interactive demonstration of the website during prototyping. A prototype, while not the final coded website, simulates the look and behavior of a website as closely as possible. Prototypes are used by designers for user testing in order to obtain valuable feedback about the usability of the site.

Once the prototype has been approved, the design of the website is handed over to a development team, which programs the website and prepares it for launch.

Need for Free Webpage Mockups

Mockups are an important part of the design process. They allow you to visualize and finalize the key design aspects of a website and its pages for a low cost, including:

  • Text, images, and other forms of media

  • Buttons, call-to-action buttons, forms, and other prominent page elements

  • Page design

  • Visual organisation

  • Color palettes

  • Elements of branding

  • Typography

  • Color contrast and visual accessibility

  • Visual consistency across multiple pages

Mockups can be easily altered because they are essentially images, making it simple to test different versions and select the best one. For example, if you believe that a different font and background colour would improve the readability of your home page, you can create an alternate mockup and directly compare the two. Optimizing your design during this phase is critical because once you move on, even minor changes waste developer resources.

Mockups are also simple to share with stakeholders and clients in order to solicit feedback. If you are asked to change a design aspect of the site, you can do so in the mockup. Designers may also share multiple mockup versions with stakeholders and solicit feedback, as well as test various versions on users.

Mockups also keep internal teams on the same page about the final product. A good mockup communicates to product managers and developers the design team's vision for a website. Mockups serve as a visual reference for developers when it comes time to code the website and clarify any ambiguity in the design specs.

Overall, free webpage mockups serve as a link between the low-fidelity ideation and high-fidelity demo stages of the process.

Create a Free Webpage Mockup Frame

When you get to the mockup stage of your website creation process, you should have a good idea of your website's audience and purpose, as well as some wireframes to work from. If so, proceed to step two. Otherwise, let us begin at the beginning.

1. Create a wireframe

While you could skip wireframes and go straight to mockups, we recommend creating some low-fidelity wireframes to get a sense of what elements you want to include and where. See our beginner's guide to website wireframes for a more in-depth look at this stage.

Don't get bogged down in the details when creating wireframes. In fact, wireframes should not be about details, but rather about the overall layout and structure of your web pages.

Wireframes can be created with pen-and-paper sketches, printouts, or a specialised software programme. Don't worry about creating an exact replica of your website at this time. point, but make your drawings distinct enough to distinguish between page elements such as text, images, navigation, CTAs, and other important elements.

You also have the option of creating mobile wireframes. If you plan the layout of your mobile site early in the process, you won't have to shoehorn a finished desktop design to mobile, and you'll be more likely to have a mobile-ready website at launch that looks consistent with your desktop version.

2. Add visuals to your wireframe

Then, using your wireframe as a foundation, begin working on mockups. If you drew your wireframes on paper, now is the time to use a digital mockup tool that allows you to drag and drop components into place and easily share your finished mockups with the team.

Here are some key design elements to focus on in your mockup:

Elements of a Page

Your wireframe can help you decide which elements to include; now you must decide how they will appear on the page, both individually and in groups. Adding or removing elements may result in a cleaner page and a more streamlined experience.

Color Scheme

Colors are not typically defined in wireframes. This is the role of the mockup: Incorporate your brand's colours and ensure that there is enough color contrast and pleasing colour combinations.

Typography

Choose typefaces and fonts that are easy to read on screens for your website. To prevent unstyled text from appearing in anyone's browser, use web-safe fonts or a font stack.

Content

You may not have all of your site content ready to go at this point, but try to incorporate as much real website copy, images, and media into your mockup as possible. Using dummy text and placeholder images is acceptable, but it will not provide an accurate representation of the final website.

Layout

Mockups allow you to fine-tune the layouts you created in your wireframe. You can see how your page establishes visual hierarchy and aids comprehension with more detailed designs. You can also use design patterns to ensure that your site has consistent layouts.

Navigation

Navigation is critical for retaining users and leading them to conversion. Mockups can aid in the demonstration of basic user flows from page to page.

Consistency

While you may be designing one page at a time, keep in mind that you are designing an entire website, and users will expect a consistent aesthetic throughout. A consistent appearance contributes to a more coherent and satisfying browsing experience; ensure that this is reflected in your mockups.

Not sure how to deal with all of this at once? That is why mockups are created in the first place! Take your time adding design elements one at a time, iterating until you have a client-ready deliverable.

3. Collect feedback, test, and redesign

Free webpage mockups are the first stage where you can conduct user testing, giving you a sense of what your design is doing well and what needs to be improved.

To get feedback, show your design to other team members and user testing participants. Your testing may simply be gauging general feelings about the interface, depending on the fidelity of your mockup. You could also evaluate the website's usability for specific tasks. Given the flexibility of mockups, any suggestions can be quickly implemented and tested, then permanently incorporated if successful.

You'll eventually want to show your mockups to clients and get feedback from them. Clients should understand that, while your free website mockup appears to be a finished product, it is only a proposed draught that can be easily changed. Mockups are simple to send to clients via email or in a presentation. If clients want to make changes themselves, you could also share files in the format of your preferred mockup tool.

4. Turn your mockup into a prototype

When you, your team, and your clients are satisfied with the free webpage mockup, convert it into a prototype, an interactive model of the website. Prototypes are usually not fully coded (they are created in a prototyping programme), but they simulate the experience of using a website as closely as possible.

Depending on your tools, you may want to keep everything in the same programme or recreate your project in a new one. You'll do the majority of your usability testing on a prototype, discovering new areas for improvement and redesigning until you're confident enough to hand your designs off to developers.

Free Webpage Mockup Tools

Your website & webpage design team relies on software tools from brainstorming all the way through prototypes, and your preferred software stack will depend on several factors: budget, team member preferences, the fidelity of your wireframes/mockups/prototypes, and the desire to adopt multiple tools or stick to a single tool throughout.

Looking at the general pool of design tools particularly available for free or on a basic price tag, we have a few broad categories of options. First, there are end-to-end design tools. With these, you can build from wireframes up to developer handoff with one tool. The two key benefits of these tools are convenience and consistency — there are no moving files between disparate tools, and your team only needs to learn one tool to draft their deliverables.

Next, there are tools specifically for mockup creation. In this design flow, you’ll typically draft your wireframes in one tool and then transfer it to your mockup tool. Additionally, some tools focus on both wireframes and mockups, while others focus on mockups and prototypes.

Lastly, there are graphic design software tools. While not meant specifically for mockups, these tools may be ideal if you want realism in your mockups that other tools can’t match, and are especially useful if your site’s design is less conventional. Designers well-versed in tools like Adobe Photoshop can churn out high-fidelity Mockups that impress clients. Just make sure that whatever you create can ultimately be coded into a proper website.

Here is a tool you should consider for your mockup phase and beyond

MockFrame is a wireframe tool to enable various design tool elements.

  • Without any design skills, sketch your interface layouts quickly and easily.

  • Using a visual designer tool, create website and app mockups.

  • Collaborate with your team online to get everyone on the same page with your wireframes.

  • Visually diagram the structure and flow of your website or app to see how everything fits together.

What Makes the Best Wireframe Tool?
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