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You're in a cyber wilderness when you can't find your way around a website or figure out how to use a web application…

You're lost in a cyber field when you have lots and lots of buttons to choose from or links to click, but no real sense of which one to hit to lead you to information you desire. You're forced into a cyber corridor when you have only two choices: keep clicking the only link offered or go back.

What's involved in design of an effective website?



Each of these models must be designed to prepare an effective website:
  • The Information model -- The first thing to describe is what information needs to be presented to the visitor and what information the visitor may provide (if any).
  • The Navigation model -- In this next stage, describe the typical paths that the visitor will follow in using a website / webapp. For example, at what point in their visit visitors require certain information; what is the information the must be presented first, subsequently, last; what information must be accessible from more than one start point.
  • The Idiom model -- In this stage of website or web app design, set out the screen controls or visual idioms that will be used to implement the design. "Screen controls" or "visual idioms" include such things as drop-down menus, radio buttons, checkboxes, underlined links, etc. The design of the website at the level of visual idiom is the next stage of design once a navigational-structural design proposal is accepted.
  • The Presentation model -- Once a design proposal at the level of visual idiom is accepted, one or more proposals for graphic treatment for the website / web app may be brought forward and when accepted, a final design for the website will be the result.

Sounds pretty straightforward but like the design process for any kind of architecture, the process is often rather "messy". A designer never begins a project with a complete conceptualization of what the finished thing looks like; rather "bits and pieces" of the desired product are the "ways in" to developing the design. In the case of a website or web app, the designer may have a sense of who and how the product would be used -- could be expressed as a scenario. A designer may have a sense of the actual workflow or part of it -- expressed as a hierarchy of task, subtasks, and steps (the workflow). A designer may have a visual sense of what the product will look like -- expressed as a sketch of the User Interface (UI).

A design process is also iterative. A designer begins with sketches and notes, and reaches a conceptualization for the design -- which design gets more and more defined, clarified, and realized with successive revisions of scenario, workflow, or what the UI looks like.