Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wireframe – when less is more

The goal of a wireframe design is to provide the review with a sense of the overall user experience, ensuring that what’s delivered is functional, usable and attractive…period – nothing else, not color schemes, not what images to use, not wording, not the glossy look and feel of a finished product. The wireframe needs to be closer to an old fashioned architectural diagram than a glossy magazine, the most essential reason behind this is to help the review focus on what the effort is trying to convey. A simple experiment (mind experiment if you want): put two diagrams in front of any person, one a black/white sketch and the other a mocked up webpage with deep rich colors and interesting images and see where the focus of the conversation is…pretty obvious and a pretty entry level IA (information architect) mistake.

I put most of the blame for poor IA on the tools being used, use photoshop and you get gloss, use visio amount of detail information that you build in comes at a high price of time and effort – a good IA tool needs to provide quick, easily updatable, clean designs…just so happens I’ve recently come across a wireframe tool that provides the clean, sketch like look along with the ease of use that I’ve always hoped for - Balsamiq Mockups: http://www.balsamiq.com/ Not free, but worth the $’s. I was able to sketch out a 20 page site in about an hour, go back through and refine in another hour…the ease of the initial creation invited revisions…making for a better end result.

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