Send Them Hi-Fi Mockups

After many years of mixed reactions to various forms of design deliverables, I made it a best practice to always send a high-fidelity mockup to the client whenever appropriate.

I had never spent a ton of time thinking about the format of my design deliverables to clients. If anything, when I began my design career, I often sent too much to my clients in an effort to over overcompensate for my experience or demonstrate that I had been burning the midnight oil on their projects.

Ironically, it wasn't until I migrated into UI design that I began to understand exactly how important presentation is to the success of a project and how to best package up a set of designs. I was working for a global tech consulting firm and we pitched for dozens of projects over a six month span that touched on all kinds of mobile and desktop apps, redesigns of outdated systems, and data visualizations. An RFP would land on our desks, and we would scramble to create the best imagined outcome for the client to win the project.

This was a huge challenge because we were essentially creating UX around something that didn't exist yet. We put the cart before the horse and delivered high-fidelity mockups. It often resulted in our favor by winning the projects. Let me tell you, these were by no means sexy projects! It was a unique and special challenge to create UI for a mobile app that functioned as the "E-Trade" of livestock for Canada or a web app that tracked cargo ships in oceans and ports all over the globe.

Maybe it was the nature of our clients, or that my boss was a classic salesman, but we always wrapped up designs and put a bow on top. Cargo tracker? The image sent to the client proudly displayed the webpage I created housed in a sleek laptop for context. That cattle stock exchange app? You bet your boots it was presented in a brand, spankin' new iPhone. Nothing went out of our office without context and careful attention to presentation. Check out this oldie; it's on an iPad screen, so it must be amazing! 😎

At some point these practices crept into my personal freelance projects. If it was a branding piece, I made a point to present it on a mockup of a physical business card laying on a table. For packaging designs, I would map the artwork to an actual container.

These hi-fi deliverables always draw a better response from the client. Flat designs do not elicit the same feedback. Mockups provide important context and allow the client to envision the final piece. The story of Chermayeff & Geismar’s logo for Armani Exchange (A|X) has always resonated with me as a powerful example of this.

The best part? There are so many wonderful mockup files out there built by talented designers for open use! Here are a few curated lists for branding, products, artwork, and tech:

  • GraphicsFuel (also the source of the gritty business card mockup above)
  • Pixeden
  • Just about any type of high quality free mockup file can also be found on Behance or Dribbble.