5 craft skills of the digital strategist part 3: wireframing and sitemapping

So yesterday I said I’d treat you by talking about how I do some things that designers do – but I do them badly.  Why would we do anything badly?  Well, read on if you’re interested.

3. Wireframing and sitemapping

Some digital agencies have UX and IA people who just do wireframing and sitemapping, and sometimes this is the job of the designers in an agency.  However, strategists should understand this stuff and be able to do it (even badly) in order to a) visually explain what they think should happen (since designers tend to be quite visual) and b) because it helps us to understand how designers think and c) therefore brief them better because we’re on the way to proving the theory is correct by beginning to put it into practice.example wireframe

If you understand how designers think, you can communicate with them better.  That means they get a better brief.  And you’re more likely to see a product you know will match your users’ (and the client’s) requirements.

At Equator, our strategy team uses Balsamiq Mockups for wireframes.

The thing is, you’re looking at the mockup on the right, and, you’re thinking, that’s crap, and you’d be right.

Wireframes aren’t meant to be nice.  They should look crap, and that’s kind of the point.

Then the client knows it’s just a sketch, which means you can discuss the principles of the user experience and the layout and the exciting ideas you have rather than whether the design fits the brand guidelines, and your designer can laugh at your incompetence and do a much better job than you ever could when it comes around to designing the thing.

We also use xmind in our team for sitemapping.  It is a most infuriating user experience.  If you know of a better sitemaps software that doesn’t cost too much, let me know.

Anyway, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about something completely different.  Presenting.  Presenting is a really important and surprisingly underrated skill.  It’s something that strategists are expected to be born able to do, and, since we’re largely introverts, who like thinking a lot and not talking to large groups of people, it’s not something that always comes that naturally to us.



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