There's quite a trend I see for low fi prototypes to be made into a purposefully lower fidelity .

That is filters to switch everything to cartoony fonts, make lines look crayoned in, and, most commonly of all, everything is made black and white.

What is the value of testing a low-fi prototype in black and white as opposed to colour?

Obviously I can see the one that it takes away judgements on colour schemes. But does it actively take users attention away from visuals and gets them to focus on IA?

I guess it can have a big advantage for recognisable brands in that it avoids people saying "Ah, this is coca cola, I like/hate coca cola", but for unknown sites and apps this isn't a worry.

Just what reasons are there behind black and white prototypes becoming so popular? What are the pros and cons of black and white vs. colour in testing?


2 Answers 2


I think lo-fi testing is quite important and here is why:

Pro of Lo-fi testing:

  1. It takes a very low effort to build it and have a prototype ready in a short time for testing.
  2. It's forcing the participant to focus on the content and the goal that he has in that prototype that you are testing.
  3. It's guiding the testing away from talking about colors, fonts, and any UI discussion that the participant will want to talk about.

I've been doing Lo-fi testing for some time now, and I can say it was always a success for us.

One thing that is important before your start testing is to tell your participant that this is a prototype without colors for testing some ideas, not designs.

Cons that I noticed while testing lo-fi prototypes:

  • Participants are discouraged to take the testing seriously, they feel that the design is not finished and they waste their time. I usually solve this by telling them from the start that the purpose of the testing is the content and task completion.

Using Colored Lo-fi

I can only find Cons for this, I think it's distracting the participant and it might mislead them to think that those are links or they need to pay attention to those colors. Also, the colour theme might change when the project is going into UI Design phase and using different colours in UI Design phase might alter the testing results. I recommend you use shades of grey when you want the participant to focus on specific actions in your layout.

  • Nice answer but the question isn't about whether to do lo-fi prototypes or not, its about whether to use coloured or black and white lo-fi prototypes. Apr 12, 2020 at 13:32
  • Forgot to add the second part :) Hope that answers your question
    – Lonut
    Apr 12, 2020 at 16:34

From my own experience I would say you should use what you feel will work for your situation.

I worked at an agency for years and stopped showing the black / white wireframes to clients (often marketing agencies) because they simply didn't understand them. I think more often than not a b/w wireframe can't convey a concept unless the person viewing it is used to wireframes.

Things like visual hierarchy can't be done without at least different grey tones, but then it's not really a wireframe anymore. If you visualise a something like a carousel, your audience may just see a rectangle with two triangles, not knowing what that means.

Wireframes can be quick, yes, but unless your audience really understands it, your tests wont be meaningful.

Personally I'd recommend putting in a just enough visual design so that your audience understands what they are looking at.

An alternative solution is to do your pages in wireframe and have at least one page with visual design so that they learn to read the wireframe.

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