Week 07

Week 07 – Topics

Create wireframes
Address navigation
Naming & Labeling
Midterm Project Assignment

Deliverable: Wireframes

Discuss Reading:
Chapter 4: “Phase 2: Develop Site Structure” (pg 106-116)
Stylin’ with CSS – Chapter 6: “Designing Interface Components”


1) Create a wireframe of the home page and a landing page using the site map and content outline for the Design Technology website. You can use the wireframe template for Illustrator discussed in class.

Please be sure to review the wireframes we discussed in class. Remember, oftentimes a wireframe is not about design or layout but rather represents the hierarchy of information. Wireframes are useful for conveying the general page structure and content requirements for individual pages. Please post both wireframes to your process blog.

Use the following checklist when wireframing:

  • Images/figures/illustrations (items in .gif or .jpg or .swf format that are not created using HTML)
  • Content (general content direction or actual text if it is available)
  • Header or global navigation (nav bar or global elements that appear on each page)
  • Functionality (a description of the basic functionality of the page)
  • Primary links (proposed navigation)
  • Secondary links
  • Media (if applicable)
  • Header and footer documentation (project name, page name, version number, date, author, copyright)

2) Start working on the design comp for your home page and landing page of the Design Technology website. Remember that 2 directions of the home page and landing page are due Week 09 on Thursday, October 27.

3) Assigned Reading

Chapter 5: “Phase 3: Design Visual Interface” (pg 120-140)


What are wireframes?
When do you not need to define key user paths?

Midterm Project: Due Thursday, November 3

This project will be completed individually, the midterm is not a team or group project.

Specifications:Design a prototype home page and first-level page for the Design Technology department website. Create a site map for the complete website (you can start with the sitemap you already created and make any necessary revisions) and be prepared to present the site map for your presentation. Focus on implementing what you learned from the Information Architecture documents we created in class . Create an interesting navigational interface that allows the user to navigate the site in multiple ways. Use HTML and an external CSS file to build the prototype for your home page and first-level page of your site. Post your thoughts and decision-making process for this project on your WP blog.


  1. Sitemap for entire site
  2. Design Comps (2 directions) Due Week 09 at the latest.
  3. Home page
  4. First-level page for one of the sections. (Commonly referred to as the “landing page.”)
  5. Posting your thoughts and decision-making process for this project on your WP blog.

You need to upload your midterm project to the class server in order to present your project to the class. Please do this BEFORE class on Thursday, November 3. Please upload your work in your folder and name it “midterm_yourlastname”

Image Resources

Possible sources for images:

Web Information Architecture Examples
1. Content Inventory (aka Content Survey, Audit)

A content inventory is intended to provide a consolidated snapshot of all the major sections, pages, and content on a Web site. This would include text, graphics, and multimedia. Some even go as far as to break content down into individual pieces or paragraphs of content. Sometimes a content inventory is performed on content that is not yet part of a Web site. This would be helpful for an organization that is collecting content to be placed on a new Web site. Card sorting would be helpful for organizing content in this situation.

Here a a couple examples of Web content inventory variations.

Survey – A high level review of a site’s main sections and pages. It enables you to develop an understanding of the general site scope and major chunks of content.

Detailed Audit – this is a comprehensive inventory of every page on a site. This inventory will list every page’s filename, title, URL, and possibly its file type and a description. It’s also helpful to assign a unique page ID that will correspond to the pages location on the Site Map.

Content Map – This simply entails laying out the site content in a graphical format. If you’re performing a content inventory on a current site, then an effective site map might nullify the need for a content map.

Sample content inventory (pdf)
Read more about content inventories for the Web

2. User Profile (aka Personas)

A user profile or persona is a realistic (but likely fictional) example of a target audience member. The profile commonly takes the form of a one page piece that lists the user’s name, occupation, education, demographic characteristics, computer/web experience, and site goals or likely tasks. A stock photography picture is usually used to give a face to the profile.

These profiles can be extremely useful in keeping the web team focused on the user’s needs. These may not be necessary for usability experts, designers, or information architects, all of whom should have a firm grasp of user-centric design. But they can be beneficial for project managers, programmers, and clients. When making decisions it’s helpful to be able to say “John B. really would have trouble with this,” or “Adding this link here would really make life easier for Sharon.” User profiles also help to reinforce the importance of an Information Architect. It is a deliverable that documents the establishment of target audiences, a process that might have taken a considerable amount of effort and research.

Read more about user profiles for the Web

3. Use Case (aka User Scenario, Task Analysis, User Flow)

Use cases are narratives that describe how a user might use a system or site. A use case illustrates a sequence of events that an actor (external agent) might go through in order to accomplish their goal. A use case is similar to a process flow.

Essential Use Case – Narratives that remain relatively independent of a specific technology or implementation.

Real Use Case – Narratives that incorporate the current technology and/or site design. This is basically the same thing as a Process Flow.

Sample use case (pdf)
Read more about use cases for the Web

4. Sitemap (aka Site Map, Site Hierarchy Map, Site Diagram, Blueprint, Web Map)

Site maps are one of the most critical and widely used web information architecture tools (along with wireframes). They show the overall structure and hierarchy of a Web site. They can be used as the first step in laying out the web information architecture of a site, and will provide the framework upon which to base site navigation. When setting out to understand the IA of a current site, or design an IA for a new site, start by sketching out a rough site map. Site maps can be constructed in a wide variety of formats, but the general structure and principles remain relatively consistent.

Sample Site Map (pdf)
Read more about Web sitemaps

6. Wireframes (aka Wire Frame, Page Architecture, Low Fidelity Mock-Up, Page Schematic)

Web site wireframes are blue prints that define a Web page’s content and functionality. They do not convey design – e.g. colors, graphics, or fonts.

Wireframes (combined with Site Maps) are the bread and butter tools of information architects. They are useful for conveying the general page structure and content requirements for individual pages.

Wireframes need to achieve a happy medium between being too precise and too loose. What is meant by this is that a wireframe that is too precise or detailed may leave little creative room for the designer. A wireframe that is too loosely defined can easily be misinterpreted by designers and developers. The format used should be dependent upon the audience.

Using detailed wireframes will frequently flush out new requirements and questions that nobody has thought about yet. They also help to keep a paper trail of functional and design decisions that are made. Wireframes are sometimes used to get people thinking and generate requirements. Wireframes will sometimes end up evolving into the default requirements document for a Web site.

Sample Wireframes (pdf)
Sample Wireframes 2

Read more about Web wireframes

7. Paper Prototype (aka Low Fidelity Prototype)

Paper prototyping involves using screen shots and/or hand sketched page diagrams to quickly elicit user feedback and identify interface IA problems. Using a paper prototype involves conducting a usability test using a low fidelity prototype. These prototypes can be created electronically using programs such as MS Word, Excel, Visio, or various WYSIWYG editors. However, in many cases paper prototypes are nothing more than loosely hand-sketched designs. The quicker these paper prototypes can be created, the greater the benefit. Paper prototypes shouldn’t incorporate specific design elements such as color, style, fonts, detailed graphics, etc.

You may be hesitant to present something that might resemble a 6th graders art project to a client. However, with a bit of education the client will be appreciative of the time and money you are saving them.

8. Story Board (aka Storyboard)

It’s debatable whether a storyboards are anything different than a set of wireframes, but they can tend to illustrate more of a process than a wireframe does. However in many cases IAs add usage and process notes to wireframes. You may also see storyboards (or something resembling them) referred to as Blueprint, Schematic, Grey Model, Interaction, Interaction Wireframe, IA Requirements Document, Design Document Story boards typically combine information from process flows, site maps, and other IA deliverables. They can be used to illustrate a single screen or a whole system or site. They usually offer screen shots or some type of graphical representation of the screens, combined with a narrative description. Storyboards help to document the functionality of the site and describe how users will potential use the interface. These deliverables can be used by programmers, project managers, upper management, and clients to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Storyboards often turn into the initial requirements documents that programmers begin coding from. These deliverables provide an excellent chance to get client buy in and sign-off on the proposed function laity and IA of a site. Story boards can be similar to a detailed wireframe, and there is a lot of crossover between the two.

Sample Story Board 1

Sample Story Board 2

9. Style Guide

Style guides are used to document baseline design requirements for a site. They usually define font classes and a wide range of various design conventions to be followed. This deliverable would generally be considered the responsibility of a designer, but in some instances the Information Architect may be covering multiple roles. HTML Wire frames are a good solution to solve multiple needs; deliverables for clients or management, and functional templates to start programming from.

Sample Style Guide (pdf)

Read more about Web style guides

Above material about Information Architecture from Web Information Architecture Deliverables and Diagrams.


““Wireframes, also referred to as content layouts or page schematics, are non-design oriented sketches (don’t worry about colors or button shaped, this is all about information) of unique pages showing rough navigation, copy layout, graphic allocation, key headers and any other elements that need to appear on a page. Wireframes show a certain hierarchy of information but do not dictate exactly how something should be represented.”

Wireframe examples:
Example 1
Example 2

Template: to use when you create wireframes for your Midterm Project
Wireframe template in Illustrator


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Instructor for Graphic Design 67