Chapter 12. Design and Documentation

What we’ll cover:
The role of diagrams in the design phase
Why, when, and how to develop blueprints and wireframes, the two most common types of IA diagrams
How to map and inventory your site’s content
Content models and controlled vocabularies for connecting and managing granular content within your site
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 quite 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 forge 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 uneasy realm of intuition and gut instinct.

It’s difficult to write about design because the work in this phase is so strongly defined by context ...

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