Updated: Nov 10, 2019
Mockup Vs. MVP
In many industries, mockups are used as a visualization tool; helping designers, managers, and prospective customers to grasp a future product. With such a mockup, however, they must use their imagination and knowledge to judge the validity of technical, marketing, and usability concepts.
This provisional tool has been developed to help bridge the information gap lurking between the visionary phase of a project - when "everything looks good on paper" - and the closing phase, where certainties loom large; achieved by lengthy trials based on prototypes, hefty capital investments, and costly (sometime even tragic) errors.
Every industry has its own peculiar modes of growing imaginary concepts to business reality, the software industry included. Nomenclature changed a bit, but "Mockups" "PoCs", and "Prototypes" are used to visualize software products, clarify the logical flow, user interaction, and acceptance.
Advanced software prototyping tools do exist, allowing previewers to move from screen to screen, through interaction with a dummy front-end, presenting fake data. These are fine tools, helping UX experts, designers, and developers hone their product.
However, "Product" is a vehicle conferring value on customers. The authentic interaction of users with it is key to validate your assumptions. It is the best way way to prove your thesis about the world, your business, your users - and the value they assign to your offering.
Only once a product is in the hands of living and breathing users, you get true feedback, trustworthy metrics.
Until very recently, launching such a product was costly to some, lengthy to others. Aspiring entrepreneurs would have needed to allocate precious cash or equity to developers (if they ever found them). Corporate innovators, on the other hand, had to fight for priorities of their IT resources, or else spend big buck on outsourcing.
Further - prevalent industry tools and standards ensured lengthy, labor intensive, and error prone development cycles, leading to a slow pace of innovation, and - compared to the business need and potential - to just a meager trickle of new products.