[thelist] IA - Visio Tricks - Menu Templates

Ed emagin at onebox.com
Wed Oct 31 12:23:32 CST 2001

 : > >Ever consider doing your prototyping/wireframe development in HTML

 : Well, maybe it's just me, but I utterly don't understand wasting
 : time "prototyping" a site in Visio or Photoshop - it's not like
 : HTML is exactly difficult, eh?

Well, I would say it depends on the complexity of the project and what you
mean by prototyping.
If you are at a conceptual stage, or early in the project, you WANT to stay
abstract so that you don't get bogged down with "what does that popup
thingie over there do" and focus on ideas, word groupings, page flow, etc. -
that's why they call it information architecture and not development!

On anything complex, the whole idea is to force the client to stay abstract
enough so as to allow you to understand what they need and how it COULD
work.  I like to work on paper printouts of Visio mock-ups and then shuffle
the pages around to decide how to navigate, how link structures might work,
how a user experiences general pages functioning. The Dhtml, JS, column
widths, applets....all that crap can be described by a box or a marker and
really needs to do little. Any client that has used  My Yahoo or  whatever
site knows how popups and dropdowns, radio buttons, etc. work.

I also find that during a meeting I can REDRAW my visio, dupe boxes, arrows,
symbols instantly right there in front of the client and update the pages. I
don't know about you, but updating HTML when you are in a VISUAL mode seems
suicidally slow to me.  Clients love seeing things form in front of their
eyes, but unless they are graphic designers, they don't need to see the
final colored, textured thing until they have worked out the functionality
of the site.

 : * you've got something you can put in front of people for usability
 :   testing without saying "imagine this is in a browser" ...

Well, when doing changes on the fly, I'd MUCH rather use photoshop or visio
than BBEdit or Homesite!
If you have turnaround time, maybe, but most of the good ideas are done on
the whiteboard and if you are lucky, on the laptop in under 3 minutes.
Usually I would do heavy USABILITY testing during or at the end of
development, while prototyping.  But certainly, if your client has usability
issues, then it's good to test a functional model or proof of concept during
prototyping.  I'd say get it down on paper, and then build a good part of it
before you get all involved in that. Budgets are tight, you gotta focus on
development.  I guess I'm thinking of a different part of the process

 : * you've got a start mapping architectural elements to CSS classes

CSS to me has little to do with prototyping.

 : * you can demonstrate, rather than describe, dynamic features

 : * you won't show the client some PhotoDreamJive idea that can't be
 :   effectively delivered in HTML :-)

I focus on structures, flow, paths, not design. I'll prototype design
mock-ups, but keep that separate from functionality. Rarely does design
drive functionality, it's usually content and business process that drives
functionality. Design all comes much later as far as fully functional, CSS,
dhtml, optimized graphics.  I use latin text and dummy images, and for
navigation graphics I'll use dumbed down boxes, ovals, layers of such,
rather than neat-o 3-D, chrome reflective Fireworks stuff.

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