Imperfect Visio

VisioAfter our client meeting in Northern Virginia yesterday, I am now charged with, among other things, the creation of a series of click-through wireframes. The idea is to model the page ‘flow’ in order to provide a rudimentary demonstration of the experience we’ll be building. This is definitely information architecture territory, and while I flatter myself that I am qualified to participate in IA activities, I certainly do not participate in them often enough. What’s more, I gotta say that I’m not all that hot on using Visio.First, there’s no Mac OS X version of Visio, which is a major strike against it, as I am less and less tolerant of Windows XP with every passing day. Second, even many longtime fans of Visio will agree that the documents that it produces are not particularly pretty. There’s an argument that IA deliverables shouldn’t concern themselves with aesthetics, but I happen to disagree with that.

Looking over alternatives, I am tempted to use OmniGraffle, which looks terrific, but I am also leery of creating files in a proprietary format, or at least one that’s not easily shared by my Wintel colleagues (if only they would only reciprocate the courtesy!). One other option is Macromedia Dreamweaver, which, I’m told, is often used by IAs and visual designers to build interactive wireframes. But it seems to me that’d be like using a bulldozer to kick over an anthill, and, having not used it for several years, I am always leery of trying to re-climb the learning curve of Macromedia’s impenetrable user interfaces.

Since these wireframes are going to be dead simple, I am actually toying with the idea of quickly building them in XHTML with CSS. This will be a kind of test of how much faster I can code with CSS than with old school HTML tables — I’m betting it will be pretty fast.



  1. Okay, not long after publishing this, I realized that Omni has just released OmniGraffle Professional, which imports and exports Visio files. Maybe I’ll use it after all.