the 7-11-06 meeting of the Rocky Mountain
Internet Users Group (RMIUG):
"Visio for Information Architecture
and User Interface Design: Beyond Boxes
Copy Diva (www.copydiva.com)
provides the audio-visual equipment
provides the facility
sponsors these minutes.
Upcoming Meetings (2nd Tuesday of every
September 12: The future of online mapping:
MapQuest VP will be the speaker.
November 14: Chris Locke (sp?) Cluetrain
Laurie Lamar announced the following:
* Edward Tufte will be offering a seminar
July 21 which has sold out.
* HFES (www.rmhfes.org)
has a meeting in August on human factors
of south Pole expeditions
* AIGA is having Summertoast on August 3.
* New Media One needs a PHP expert; based
in Erie; also SQL Server 2000 administrator.
* Creation Chamber has several positions
* Mapbuzz, a startup near Denver, is looking
for an interaction designer for their website.
Contract position for 2 months, maybe longer:
Contact Charlie Savage email@example.com.
* TextureMedia is looking for Information
Architects. To find out more information,
go to www.texturemedia.com
* Architeketure is looking for Java Developers.
For more information contact Allen.Ellison@architekture.com
* McKesson looking for an HF/UI design engineer.
Keri Nightingale firstname.lastname@example.org
* Whitney Broach, co-manager of the CICSIG
(Consulting and Independent Contracting
Special Interest Group) of the STC, invited
everyone who is independent, to join.
Introduction (Josh Zapin)
Josh turned the meeting over to Laurie
Lamar, a consulting information architect
and interaction designer. Her projects include
search engines, portals, complex web applications,
e-commerce websites, and content management
systems. Laurie is the chair of the Rocky
Visio, Microsoft's ubiquitous diagramming
program, enables artistically-challenged
people to map complex processes, systems,
or interfaces so that they are easy to understand.
In the website, web application, and software
design world, this could mean things like
o Site maps o Storyboards o Interaction
diagrams and flow maps o Network topology
diagrams o Business Process diagrams
Visio comes with thousands of pre-supplied
shapes that we can drag and drop to create
meaningful diagrams in seconds.
But, with its open architecture, Visio
can do a whole lot more including more productive
rapid-prototyping and detailed interface
Tonight, Laurie said, we will dig into
Visio and learned about how it can do even
more for us, as we spec the information
architecture and user interface design for
websites and web apps.
She suggested that new learners start with
the basics and move to more complex features
of Visio. She covered the basics quickly.
She mentioned that Axure is another tool,
but of course, it costs money. She asked
audience members to share their knowledge
as well, because she acknowledged that she's
not a Visio expert. Half the audience does
user experience work as their primary work.
Laurie demonstrated Visio professional:
1. Shapes and stencils (if just getting
started in user experience, use Jesse James
Garrett's diagrams). Find them and others
(Visio shapes available). Elvisioso is another
place to find shapes. Using shapes like
these is good for mocking up page designs.
You can move stuff around without having
to redraw it. If you find a shape you like,
right click; add it to "My Shapes"
and "My Favorites." Visio is excellent
for flowcharting and storyboarding, not
to use as actual web pages. Laurie recommends
Visio as a good means of communicating interaction
design or any kind of prototyping.
2. Problems with Visio:
a. She did mention trouble with printing
and recommended using a standalone Acrobat
to create a PDF and then print.
b. Another drawback is that the page set
up only works on the tab you are on.
c. Macros can be turned off through Tools/Options/Security/Macro
Security/Button. Macros are usually embedded
in the document. You can save them as text.
They have the ability to do damage to an
open document but probably also can affect
d. Reviewers may not have updated versions
e. Sometimes cannot get connectors to work
the way you want them to. An audience member
demonstrated Viewing connector points (View/Connection
Points) and then creating a connection point
to glue your arrow to.
3. Laurie demonstrated how to embed files
in Visio (based on the work of Nathan Curtis
Create a separate diagram to be embedded
in other Visio files. Put your created diagram
in a separate Visio document file, and then
Insert/Object and link to it. Then you can
change the original Visio file and have
the changes cascade into all the diagrams
as Visio updates the links. You could also
create a page with a background with an
object in a fixed place. Or you can open
the document stencil (Alt V D), go to Masters,
go to document stencil, and create an object.
You can edit that object and update every
instance of it.
4. You can also embed a part of a file (a
cropped diagram). Insert/Object/Create from
file/Link to it. Then crop what you want;
select pointer tool and drag it where you
5. Layers 101 (handout to be posted): Suppose
you are specing an interaction. Put all
annotations in a separate layer. Then through
the view menu, you can turn those layers
on and off, depending upon who is looking
at it; they will still print.
6. Layers 102 (handout to be posted): Bill
Scott made a control panel that will automatically
show or hide layers when you click on them.
This is good for showing a rich Internet
interaction. Laurie said to go to www.boxesandarrows.com
to look for an article on this (she warned
that it is not explained well; she had to
reduce the article to steps). Make a chart
of every interface element, and give them
all a name (like yellow highlight on hover).
Then you'll know what step they're in. Then
you'll know what layer they should appear
on and map out what the layers are. (Audience
suggested doing this in PowerPoint(r) as
a build.) (Note: Laurie's documents will
be posted online at a later date)
The second speaker, Jason T. Williams,
demonstrated Intuitect(tm), a Visio add-on
to be released in September 2006. Intuitect(tm)
offers seamless construction of navigation
maps (sitemaps), wireframes, flowmaps, and
Intuitect eliminates manual, repetitive
"boxes and arrows" tasks, allowing
information architects, user experience
designers, interaction designers, and other
website design professionals to focus on
o Use the Quick-Site Architect to quickly
transform "white board" concepts
into high-level navigation (sitemap) diagrams
Updates in navigation view cascade through
wireframes o Manage and export functional
specifications to a variety of audience-appropriate
formats including HTML, XML, Excel, or High-fidelity
protototype o Save and re-use wireframes
in the Wireframe Library.
o Export Intuitect projects to HTML, XML
or Excel spreadsheet for validation, content
inventories and cross-functional collaboration
with your team.
Jason began by showing us the pre-release
version of his software. Intuitect has created
a visual vocabulary to manage data relations
He showed how to define a top-down navigational
hierarchy; all elements get automatically
This makes it easy to quickly define a site
map and expose custom properties; the "shape
sheet" associated with each object
provides insight into the massive database
nature of Visio. Every object has properties
and events associated with it that you can
now see and edit when you run his software
in developer mode.
He showed an advanced layers technique.
Highlight a node and move it, based on layers.
All the layers are managed within the application.
Visio is vector-based; this software is
pixel-based. Masters are replicable objects
that can be used over and over to create
a wireframe of a website, and there is a
wireframe editor in the software. You can
see an inventory of the wireframes to which
you can save wireframes.
There will be a library of wireframes in
The first version of Intuitect will be released
for Information Architects (IAs); the next
version will be more process-flow oriented.
Each document can be saved as a template.
This software will support agile development.
You will be able to export an Intuitect
project file as a hi-fidelity, navigable
prototype. He thinks prototypes are a very
compelling reflection of client requirements.
This becomes your living specification.
Users will be able to export project data
to Excel, HTML, Visio, or XML.
Users can also create a project outline
to hand off to team members.
Temporary pricing structure is in the $499
There may be free viewers provided with
the software (no modifications possible)
so that team members without the software
can view it.
He recommended an after-market resource:
Visio Developers Survival Pack by Graham
Wideman. There are also Google Groups; type
in "Visio" and locate groups to
The IA Institute (http://iainstitute.org/)
is probably the single best resource for
IA related information because it provides
links to other resources.
(Links to Jason's documents are at: www.intuitect.com/products/documents)
Links and resources
Microsoft's Visio website
Rocky Mountain CHI
ACM SIGCHI (The Special Interest Group
for Computer Human Interaction) has a free
mailing list for anyone interest in usability,
interaction design, user interface design,
information architecture, and so on. E-mail
Laurie Lamar, email@example.com.
appreciates the sponsorship of MicroStaff
and Copy Diva (www.copydiva.com).
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