With all of these different methods to choose from, should you be sketching, wireframing, mocking-up, or prototyping? The answer, simply put, is yes you should.
Design methods are not mutually exclusive. Rather, each method exists on a continuum of fidelity, ranging from low fidelity sketches to high fidelity HTML prototypes. Each method is well-suited for a particular phase of the design process, with one level of fidelity often leading into the next.
In his book Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton portrays the design process as a cycle of elaboration and reduction. The goal of the elaboration phase is to generate as many different ideas as possible, while the reduction phase is meant to select one of those ideas and carefully refine it.
Laseau’s overlapping funnels (as portrayed in Sketching User Experiences) indicate the dual nature of design as elaboration followed by reduction.
RINSE AND REPEAT
While it does typify the design process as a whole, in practice the elaboration and reduction process must be continuously repeated time and again throughout the course of design. From information architecture, to visual design, to the functional prototype, each stage must be explored in full, then lovingly honed down to a precise solution.