Chapter 13. Design and Documentation

You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site.

Frank Lloyd Wright

In this chapter, we’ll cover:

  • The role of diagrams in the design phase

  • Why, when, and how to develop sitemaps and wireframes, the two most common types of IA diagrams

  • How to map and inventory your content

  • Content models and controlled vocabularies for connecting and managing granular content

  • Ways to enhance your collaboration with other members of the design team

  • Style guides for capturing your past decisions and guiding your future ones

When you cross the bridge from research and strategy into design, the landscape shifts dramatically. The emphasis moves from process to deliverables as your clients and colleagues expect you to move from thinking and talking to actually producing a clear, well-defined information architecture.

This can be an uneasy transition. You must relinquish the white lab coat of the researcher, leave behind the ivory tower of the strategist, and delve into the exposed territory of creativity and design. As you commit your ideas to paper, it can be scary to realize there’s no going back. You are now actively shaping what will become the user experience. Your fears and discomforts will be diminished if you’ve had the time and resources to do the research and develop a strategy; if you’re pushed straight into design (as is too often the case), you’ll be entering the uncertain realm of intuition and ...

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