Posted: August 2, 2012
Everyone who’s ever worked in website design and development, especially those who create sites with lots of content and functionalities, know that wireframing carries great importance in the Information Architecture phase of planning. It involves sketching a hierarchical mockup of content and provides an opportunity to visually communicate how the proposed structure will function when complete.
Given the importance of planning a deliberate and strategically sound information Architecture for the sites we build, you can understand why we at VisionPoint care a lot about the software we use to create these wireframes.
Completed wireframes not only provide an informative deliverable for the client, but they can be used to further test the navigational concepts with users. The software programs we’ve been using have created effective wireframes, but haven’t given us a useful tool for linking these wireframes together to show functionality - until now.
Balsamiq Mockups offers a smooth and easy drag-and-drop interface as well as the ability to export clickable pdfs. The ability to create reusable objects (symbols) gave us an easy way to expand into more pages without having to recreate the link structure. This allowed for some of the same functionality as a content management system provide on a full site.
It’s one thing to put our plans into a visually appealing form that we can share with clients, but the ability to make that wireframe into an actual user testing tool is indispensable. We started using Balsamiq in our wireframing process and found its presentation mode to be an incredibly powerful tool for user testing.
VisionPoint recently used Mockups for wireframing and preliminary user testing on an advantced Information Archetecture project we’re working on for a higher education client here in North Carolina. We used Mockups’ presentation mode in combination with Silverback screen capturing software to record test users’ navigation experiences. Using that feedback we made improvements to the final wireframes based on what we found in the students’ responses.
Since this project, I’ve started to use Mockups for more than just laying out and delivering my Information Architecture. Creating site map deliverables and user testing with Mockups are now my norm, and I’m looking for more ways to use this great software product in everything I do.
In your experience, which software programs have had a positive impact on the work you do?