High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (2023)

In fact, the terms, “high fidelity” and “low fidelity”, were firstly used in rock music to describe the sound and playing skills of the rock and roll at the end of the 1980s. As the years go by, they are also applied in web/app design to refer to the different levels of details and functionality built into a prototype.

However, what are the actual differences between them, how and why should we choose the high or low fidelity prototype for a better design or user research?

In the following, I will walk you through the basics and differences lying in the high fidelity and low fidelity, and explain why and how to choose them to make excellent prototypes for a better design or user research.

Table of Contents:

  • First, what is a prototype
  • What is a low fidelity prototype
  • What is a high fidelity prototype
  • Difference between high fidelity and low fidelity prototype
  • How and why to choose hi-fi or low-fi prototype for a better design
  • Best prototyping tool for your web/app design

First, What Is a Prototype?

"A prototypeis an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semantics, design, electronics, and software programming." ---- from Wikipedia.

When it comes to UI/UX design, a prototype helps designers translate their design ideas into a digital and tangible model. They can direclty test parts or all of the UIs, interactions and UX flows to see whether they are workable and excutable.

Moreover, since the needs of teams vary, they also make the low fidelity prototype or high fidelity prototype to test their design ideas for different purposes.

What Is a Low Fidelity Prototype?

The low-fidelity prototype - known as low-tech, low-fi or lo-fi prototype, is a semi-finished prototype that focuses on function, structure, process, and provides the simplest framework and elements of a web/app. It’s often used to translate design ideas into testable and tangible artifacts for collecting and analyzing the user demands at the early stage.

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (1)

Then, What Is a High Fidelity Prototype?

The high-fidelity prototype - known as high-tech, high-fi or hi-fi prototype, is a comprehensive and interactive prototype that is quite close to the final products with lots of functions, interactions and details. It’s often used in the later usability evaluation to discover the potential issues that a web/app design may still exist.

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (2)

Difference Between High Fidelity and Low Fidelity Prototype

Still don’t know the differences between low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes? Don’t worry! Here are 3 real low-fidelity prototype examples to help you learn more about low-fi prototypes:

1. Low Fidelity Motion Prototype Example

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (3)

This low-fi prototype shows the second menu motions clearly without focusing too much on its UI details.

(Video) Low Fidelity vs. High Fidelity Prototyping - What's better?

2. Low Fidelity UX Prototype Example for a Website Builder

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (4)

This low fidelity UX prototype presents the page layouts, navigation systems and user flows of interactions clearly without too much UI details. It helps designers test assumptions and find invisible UX issues quickly.

3.Lo-fi Prototype Example Tender

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (5)

This is another good example (created in Mockplus,an easier faster and smarter prototyping tool) to show the main layouts and element placements of an app. Even without element details, it helps designers detect and tackle potential problems at an earlier stage.

See it? Even without UI details, the low-fi prototype helps convey design ideas and show the main functions, structures, flows and interactions of a web/app easily. It brings designers lots of benefits.

Advantages of low fidelity prototypes:

  • Low cost. The cost of a low-fidelity prototype is extremely low.
  • Fast.Without focusing on every interface detail, designers can just follow their design ideas and create a simple and testable prototype within a few minutes.
  • Easy to demonstrate, collaborate and iterate.Without too many UI details, a low-fi prototype does not require many professional skills. And more people can join and collaborate on the same project. It is also easy for designers to make changes and iterate the prototype during the collaboration.
  • Easy to get feedback. Since a low-fidelity prototype is easy to carry and demonstrate, designers can also directly share it with other people (including the team members and stakeholders) to collect design feedback.
  • Easy to detect and tackle potential issues.A low-fidelity prototype also allows designers to test user flows, interactions and navigation menus of a web/app easily. It is good for designers to detect and tackle potential UI/UX issues quickly.

Disadvantages of low fidelity prototypes:

  • Limited UI details/animations/interactions. To convey ideas quickly, a low-fidelity prototype is often created with limited UI details, functions, animations and interactions, etc. So, it is not good for other designers or team members to have a full understanding of the web/app design.
  • The testing results are limited and inaccurate.Without enough design details, a low fidelity prototype, to some extent, cannot accurately simulate the real user scenarios. The testing results are also inevitably affected and inaccurate. Needlessly to say, when the prototype are modified dramatically at the later stage, the testing results can be completely different.

So, if you only get some design ideas, want to present them with a simple prototype, discuss and collaborate with other designers or team members before digging in, a low fidelity prototype is perfect for you.

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (6)

And then, here are 3 real high-fidelity prototype examples to help you learn more about high-fi prototypes:

1. Job List High Fidelity Prototype Example

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (7)

This high fidelity prototype not only shows the UI details, but also displays user flows and interactions clearly. Designers can easily check and test very tiny detail to see whether there are still some UI/UX problems.

2. High Fidelity Prototype Example

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (8)

(Video) What is Low Fidelity Prototype? Types and Examples.

3. Product Design High Fidelity Prototype Example

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (9)

A high-fidelity prototype allows you to convey design ideas with rich colors, buttons, photos, icons, animations, interactions and more details.

Advantages of high-fidelity prototypes:

  • Rich design details.The high-fidelity prototypes are built with more HQ photos, colors, animations, icons, buttons and other elements. Every element is designed exactly as if it were in a real website/app.
  • Better visual effect.With a great color scheme, vivid animations, layouts and more, a high-fidelity prototype also often have better visual effects than a low-fidelity prototype.
  • More accurate testing results.With rich details, a high-fidelity prototype just looks like a real web/app. It is easy for designers to simulate the real user scenarios and test the product from all possible aspects, including the interactions, user flows, element effects and color schemes as well the UX. The testing results are also much more accurate.
  • More effective feedback.Of course, after being shared with other designers and team members, the received feedback is also more effective to tackle the existing problems.
  • More attractive to clients and stakeholders.It is also good for designers to present clearly how the final web/app are supposed to work and help attract more clients, stakeholders and investors.

Disadvantages of high-fidelity prototypes:

  • Higher cost.A high-fidelity prototype often needs to be created with a professional prototyping tool. In comparison with the low-fidelity prototype, the cost of it is surely much higher.
  • Hard to change and iterate.When some changes are made, a series of pages or elements in a high-fidelity prototype also need to be modified at the same time. This can be troublesome and time-consuming.

So, a high-fidelity prototype is highly functional and interactive for you and your team to find and tackle some tiny UI/UX problems, as well as getting more stockholders and clients at the very ending design stage.

How and Why to Choose Hi-fi or Low-fi Prototype for a Better Design?

As we’ve mentioned above, since the high fidelity and low fidelity play a very different role in creating successful designs, you’d better also use them for different purchases or at different design stages:

1.Why is a low fidelity prototype better for you at the early design stage?

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (10)

Obviously, the low fidelity prototype focuses more on high-level concepts of the final products and help discover the potential issues as well as getting them resolved at the very early stage.

It helps ensure that you and your team have chosen and followed the right design theme and direction before digging in.

So, at the early design stage, when you and your team are aiming at quickly translating ideas into visualized prototypes, shortening iterations and collecting user feedback, a low fidelity prototype is a much better choice.

Briefly speaking, when is the right time to use a low-fi prototype?

  • When a design idea flashes in your mind and you want to convert it into a tangible model quickly
  • When you want to discuss your design ideas with your partners as soon as possible
  • When you want to test whether the design ideas are feasible and meet the users’ needs
  • When you want to get feedback from other team members

2. Why is high fidelity prototyping better for you at the very ending design stage?

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (11)

And then, since the high fidelity prototype often pays much attention to the details and functions of a web/app, it is often better for designers to test the feasibility of web/app designs and attract more users/stakeholders at the very ending design stage.

Briefly speaking, when is the best time to use a high-fi prototype?

  • When the visual design of your product has been done
  • When you want to test your web/app details, such as the UI elements, color schemes and page copies, etc
  • When you want to test an interaction, workflow, user flow, transition animation, visual effects or the like design ideas with full UI details
  • When you want to know the feedback from other designers and users

How to Choose a Right Prototyping Tool for a Better Design?

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (12)

No matter whether you choose a high fidelity or low fidelity prototype, the only purpose is to present your fantastic design ideas more vividly and build excellent web/app prototypes, right? If your answer is “Yes”, the next step for you is to choose a right prototyping tool.

(Video) Wireframing – Low Fidelity vs. High Fidelity

But still don’t know how? Here are several tips for your references:

  • Price.The price is always the most important factor for you to choose a low-fi or high-fi prototyping tool. However, it is not the only factor that you should take into consideration. A cheap or expensive price does not indicate anything. What you need is only the one that suits you best.
  • Learning curve. How long it takes for you and your team to learn a new tool always matters while choosing a right prototyping tool. So, if you do not want to waste time exploring new features of a tool, it is best for you to choose an easier one.
  • Usage.These days, there are lots of prototyping tools out there that provide completely different features. To choose the most suitable one for you and your team, it is best to know what features you will exactly need in your product design process. So, it is necessary for you to find out the real needs of your team members from different departments in advance.
  • Teamwork.To discuss design ideas and get feedback from other team members timely, most designers/design teams prefer to choose a prototyping tool that supports teamwork. Do you also need that? If you do, a tool that allows you and your team to communicate and collaborate freely online is a better option.
  • Fidelity.Well, while choosing a prototyping tool, it is also necessary to take the fidelity into consideration.
  • Integration. Another factor you should consider is to see how well the prototyping tool fits your design process. These days, in case that users have to switch tools frequently while designing, many prototyping tools are integrated with other tools, such as Sketch, PS, Facebook, Slack and more.

Overall, I hope these tips can help you choose a right tool.

3 Best Low Fidelity Prototyping Tools

Here are 3 best low fidelity prototyping tools for your references:

1. Paper and pens

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (13)

With the fastest and simple tool, pens and paper will help draw your ideas easily and quickly, and also facilitate the internal discussion between the team members. Even if I sometimes need to use prototyping software to draw, I usually prefer to use pens and paper to clarify my ideas first.


  • Completely free
  • Fast
  • Easy to start


  • No smart interactions and animations
  • You cannot show all your ideas clearly
  • You cannot discuss and test every detail

2. Mockplus

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (14)

Mockplus is a powerful low-fidelity prototyping tool that gets much attention in recent years. It allows you to translate design ideas into interactive prototypes, test, share and iterate them with ease. Its team collaboration and management feature also helps improve your work efficiency effortlessly.


  • Provide Over 200 pre-built components and 3000 pre-designed icons
  • Create interactions with simple drag-and-drop
  • Provide many options to export pages and prototypes
  • Provide numerous samples and projects
  • Provide many ways to share and test a prototype online or on mobile
  • Communicate, comment and collaborate a prototype online
  • Integrate with Sketch


  • Not completely free

3. Balsamiq mockups

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (15)

Basamiq is a simple low-fidelity prototyping tool that allows you to sketch your design ideas on a whiteboard directly. It is really useful when you only focus on the structures and overall concept of your design.


  • Provide a built-in hand-painted UI library
  • Export designs to PNG/PDF images directly


(Video) What are High Fidelity Prototypes?Types and Examples.

  • Lack basic interactions while prototyping designs

2 Best High Fidelity Prototyping Tools

1. Marvel App

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (16)

Marvel app is a powerful high-fidelity prototyping tool that supports creating wireframes, prototypes and mockups collaboratively online. It allows you to directly upload images(including the JPF, GIF and PSD) and add animations for them to create interactive prototypes quickly.

2. Mockplus Cloud

High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? (17)

Mockplus Cloud is a professional online design collaboration tool that allows product managers, designers and developers to work together online with auto specs, assets and code snippets.

It is also used as an all-in-one high-fidelity prototyping tool. You can easily upload designs with assets and spec details from Sketch/PS/Adobe XD, and add rich interaction commands to create interactive and high-fidelity prototypes.

For a product team, the newly created prototype can also be shared with one link and get feedback in real-time.

In short, these days, to attract far more users, many prototyping tools are created to meet the needs of users as many as possible. There seems no clear boundary between a low-fi and high-fi prototyping tool.

So, to choose a right prototyping tool, it is best for you and your team to take more tool options for testing.

Wrap Up

No matter what the differences the low fidelity and high fidelity prototyping are, how and why you will choose low fidelity or high fidelity prototyping for a better design or user research, a good prototyping tool, like the easier and faster one, Mockplus, often means a lot for you to create an excellent web/app with beautiful interfaces and good user experiences. Hope this article can inspire you anyway.

You May Also Like:

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(Video) Low-Fidelity vs. High-Fidelity Prototyping: A Guide to Prototype Fidelity


High-Fidelity & Low-Fidelity Prototyping: What, How and Why? ›

Low-fidelity prototypes allow teams to test information architecture and user flows, while high-fidelity prototypes introduce UI elements and how the user might interact with the final design.

What is low fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes? ›

A prototype can be anything from paper drawings (low-fidelity) to something that allows click-through of a few pieces of content to a fully functioning site (high-fidelity).

Why should one prefer high-fidelity prototyping? ›

Benefits of high-fidelity prototyping

Pinpoint specific components to test: You can dive deep into a single component (like flow, visuals, engagement, or navigation) during user testing. This allows you to get detailed feedback on certain elements of the design that would not be possible with pen and paper.

What is the purpose of a low fidelity prototype? ›

Low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototyping is a quick and easy way to translate high-level design concepts into tangible and testable artifacts. The first and most important role of lo-fi prototypes is to check and test functionality rather than the visual appearance of the product.

How do you decide whether to use low-fidelity or high-fidelity designs? ›

Low-fidelity prototypes allow teams to test information architecture and user flows, while high-fidelity prototypes introduce UI elements and how the user might interact with the final design.

What is the difference between low-fidelity and high-fidelity? ›

In conclusion

Prototypes are divided into two categories: low and high fidelity. Low fidelity prototypes are used by designers in the early stages of the project to make sure the content is correct. High fidelity prototypes are created at later stages of the design process to test all current hypotheses.

What are the two types of prototyping? ›

4 Types of Prototyping
  • Rapid (Throwaway) prototyping.
  • Evolutionary prototyping.
  • Incremental prototyping.
  • Extreme prototyping.
Jul 15, 2020

What is the difference between a low and high-fidelity wireframe? ›

Low fidelity wireframes can be an excellent way of visualizing requirements and getting everyone on the same page early on. High fidelity wireframes will make sure that your design decisions are communicated to the team building the end product and that target users are accounted for.

Why is prototyping important? ›

Prototyping makes it possible to concertize an idea and to understand which aspects of the idea prove difficult or impossible to implement. Making a prototype can thus highlight unanticipated physical, technical or financial constraints.

Why is making a prototype important? ›

Prototypes improve the overall understanding of the design

Most people are visual when it comes to understanding a concept or idea. Rapid prototypes services help illustrate the final product, allowing the design team to comprehend the product's function, and target audience.

What are three benefits to low-fidelity prototyping? ›

Benefits of Low-Fidelity Prototypes
  • Less time to prepare a static prototype, more time to work on design, before the test. ...
  • You can make design changes more easily during the test. ...
  • Low-fidelity prototypes put less pressure on users. ...
  • Designers feel less wedded to low-fidelity prototypes.
Dec 18, 2016

Is 3D model a high-fidelity prototype? ›

Answer: 3D modelling is a part of rapid prototyping

3D modelling is a part of rapid prototyping.

What low-fidelity means? ›

Low-fidelity definition

The electronic reproduction of sound or images using technology that results in unwanted distortion or imperfections. noun.

Why is it important to consider the fidelity of a design before prototyping begins? ›

Because low-fidelity prototypes lack real functionality, it can be difficult to get accurate feedback during testing. Users will know that the prototype is simple and incomplete, so they may make assumptions that aren't accurate to the vision.

How do I create a high-fidelity prototype? ›

Create a High-Fidelity Prototype | Google UX Design Certificate

Why high-fidelity is important? ›

Why high fidelity matters. High fidelity design matters because it gives clients the chance to see their product in a branded context and allows us to test user experience, features, interactivity, and more. While low fidelity is the blueprint, high fidelity is the final draft.

What is prototype fidelity? ›


High-fidelity prototypes are the vehicle for refining the design details to get them just right as they go into the final implementation. As the term implies, a high-fidelity prototype is faithful to the details, the look, feel, and behavior of an interaction design and possibly even system functionality.

What are the 3 types of prototyping? ›

There are several methods of industrial design prototyping: iterative, parallel, competitive, and rapid. These different methods of prototyping produce varying models of proof-of-concept during the product development process.

What are prototyping techniques? ›

Prototyping is a technique for building a quick and rough version of a desired system or parts of that system. The prototype illustrates the system to users and designers. It allows them to see flaws and invent ways to improve the system.

Why do we need low fidelity wireframes? ›

A low fidelity wireframe is the first visual representation of a designer's idea. It ensures that the developers and clients get a clear understanding of the functionalities and designs that the software needs to support.

What is high-fidelity prototyping? ›

In this sense, a high-fidelity (sometimes referred as high-fi or hi-fi) prototype is a computer-based interactive representation of the product in its closest resemblance to the final design in terms of details and functionality.

What are wireframes used for? ›

A wireframe is a schematic or blueprint that is useful for helping you, your programmers and designers think and communicate about the structure of the software or website you're building.

What are the 4 main reasons we prototype? ›

There are many great reasons to make prototypes and to include them early and often in your process, and the four main points I'll cover are as follows: to understand, to communicate, to test and improve, and to advocate.

What are the 6 reasons why you need to do prototyping? ›

6 Reasons Why You Should Prototype Your Idea Before Developing It
  • Gain clarity. ...
  • Quickly validate your idea in the market. ...
  • Save on cost. ...
  • Develop consistent UX. ...
  • Drive stakeholder acceptance with a proven concept. ...
  • Fine-tune your prototype to improve your concept.

What is prototyping and its advantages? ›

Prototyping improves the quality of requirements and specifications provided to customers. Needed changes detected later in development cost exponentially more to implement. With prototyping, you can determine early what the end user wants with faster and less expensive software.

When should prototyping be used? ›

The Prototyping Model should be used when the requirements of the product are not clearly understood or are unstable. It can also be used if requirements are changing quickly.

How prototyping does benefit a business? ›

The business uses of prototyping

To understand the value of prototyping, it's important to be clear on the business benefits and uses. The most obvious benefit is that thanks to user reactions and feedback, you go on to create a better final version of your web or mobile app or other digital product.

What are the two types of prototyping? ›

4 Types of Prototyping
  • Rapid (Throwaway) prototyping.
  • Evolutionary prototyping.
  • Incremental prototyping.
  • Extreme prototyping.
Jul 15, 2020

What are low fidelity wireframes? ›

What is a low-fidelity wireframe? Low-fidelity wireframes are basic wireframes that outline blueprints for web pages or app screens. They help you communicate your product's “big idea” rather than the specific details.

What is high-fidelity mockup? ›

A mockup becomes a high-fidelity prototype once interactions, transitions, or animations are added. With clickable menus and buttons, hi-fi prototypes provide a visceral sense of the user experience. This allows teams to tweak usability before final design approvals, testing, and hand-off to the developers.

What is fidelity in design? ›

Design fidelity refers to the level of details and functionality built into a prototype. There are three levels of fidelity: low, mid and high. Low fidelity prototypes consist of sticky notes and sketches, which is great for high-level brainstorming and collaboration.


1. Prototyping: Low fidelity and High fidelity
(Introduction to Human Computer Interaction on NPTEL)
2. UX Prototyping: Low Fidelity, Mid or High Fidelity Prototype? (Livestream Highlight)
3. HCI 4.5 Part 2: Types of Prototyping Techniques (Low, Medium & High Fidelity) With Examples
(CS & IT Tutorials by Vrushali 👩‍🎓)
4. How to Design Low-Fidelity Prototypes | Google UX Design Certificate
(Google Career Certificates)
5. Create a High-Fidelity Prototype | Google UX Design Certificate
(Google Career Certificates)
6. Low Fidelity Prototyping Example
(Learn Engineering Design)
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