SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Why Visio wireframes are outmoded (Was [Sigia-l] NYU IA class description link)
Why Visio wireframes are outmoded (Was [Sigia-l] NYU IA class description link)
First, I realize my previous remark came off as a bit pompous - not my
intention - as a recovering Visio junkie, I think it was just my
frustration shining through at seeing what is so obviously the wrong
tool (but seemed like just the write tool when IA was young and we
were trying to find some means of communicating our work) still being
incorporated into a course on information architecture. Yes, many IAs
are still--unfortunately--using Visio (or Omnigraffle or some other
illustration/diagramming software) - I used Visio myself for about 7
years and still have to for maintenance of some legacy projects--but I
do maintain that it is an outmoded approach. Paraphrasing Thomas
Vander Wal, one of the pioneers (together with Christina Wodtke and
Nate Koechley and others) in developing the far more robust XHTML/CSS
wireframing model, which I expect will completely replace Visio
wireframes, here are some reasons why:
* (X)HTML/CSS wireframes are standards-compliant and semantically
structured, and contain semantic id hooks, as well as class attributes
(allowing for precisely defining all content types that will be the
basis for the visual styles of the design.)
* The intial version of these wireframes are pure structure and
content and do not force the hand of the visual designer in terms of
layout. Instead, it allows for bringing the visual designer earlier
into process to develop a presentation concept.
* The visual design is now implemented using a wireframe that becomes
the actual page template, rather than the duplication of a separete
HTML comp,and the host of problems that come with any form of
* The CMS folks have a structured document to frame their modules
* Rather than existing like some hermit in Visio world, this places
the IA directly in the workflow--where they belong--rather than making
deliverables that require somebody to redo the work in another format
to make it function.
* Clickable HTML wireframes are more powerful and easier for business
users to understand.
* HTML wireframes contain all the instrinsic qualities of a web page
(such as how it should respond to window resizing) that would be
difficult to communicate with a Visio wireframe
*Working directly in the medium helps us understand the context,
power, and limitations of the design, eliminating possible rework when
you see the wireframe realized in HTML
* In terms of ROI and efficiency, Visio wireframes are extremely
inefficient and ultimately get in the way of design and
development--there is too much concern for how
Visio/Illustrator/Omnigraffle works rather than the browser.
Again, these bullet points are paraphrased from a posting by Thomas
Vander Wal a while back on the AIFIA-members list. IMO, this approach
blows the old-school Visio model out of the water - someone still
doing Visio-type wireframes a few years from now will not be
competitive in the field, so therefore this outmoded approach should
not be taught in IA courses. What they should instead be teaching is
XHMTL/CSS, particularly CSS, which is something I believe anyone who
wants to be an IA in the near future will need to master.
Finalle, a direct qoute from Thomas,also form the 'IA Tools' thread on
the AIFIA-members list:
"Tools must focus on the medium, not move focus from moving forward, so
that workflow is far more efficient. The old and far out-of-date
method of the visual designer putting together a web interface in
Photoshop or Illustrator and handing it off from somebody else to
recreate is a miserable waste of resources.
"Wireframes and flow (it can be clicked through from very early stages)
are relatively easily accomplished.
"Are there good tools for building wireframes in XHTML and CSS? There
is one decent tool, Dreamweaver, but one still needs to be smarter
than the tool and understand what it should be doing not what it does.
Every version of Dreamweaver gets much better.
Site maps and broader vision documents can still be sketched in
whatever tool you wish as they story tools that are for a higher level
of abstraction. Similar to the Dan Brown posters at the IA Summit,
which are fantastic vision documents to help focus and explain use,
these type of tools are still valuable and useful as "wall" documents
for reference, not workflow products."
On 7/10/05, Donna Maurer <donna_at_maadmob.net> wrote:
> On 9 Jul 2005 at 13:36, Anders Ramsay wrote:
> > Also, they're using Visio, which means whoever is teaching this is
> > behind the times.
> So, what should they be using. I still use visio for many of my IA
> deliverables - I guess I'm behind the times as well...
> Donna Maurer
> Maadmob Interaction Design
> e: donna_at_maadmob.net
> work: http://maadmob.com.au/
> blog: http://maadmob.net/donna/blog/
> AOL IM: maadmob
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: Mon Jul 11 2005 - 14:16:59 EDT