Prototyping is a vital component of the website design process for social networking websites. If you are designing a brochure website, it is possible to envision the website coherently in your mind. Social networks, however, tend to involve multi-dimensional hierarchies and other IA models that have more inherent sophistication.
Information Architecture Models
When deciding upon the architecture of your social networking website, you should check out the following information about information architecture and social networks.
Advantages of Prototyping
- Achieve easier coordination between developers, designers and other staff involved in the deployment.
- Identify logic and usability flaws earlier in the process.
- When you’re coding, you may be tempted to take usability and information architecture shortcuts that you are less likely to make during the prototyping phase.
- Get approval from clients or managers early on in the process and get them to sign off on the prototype. This will save you valuable time later on, where changes are more time consuming to implement.
Social networks tend to have particularly complex hierarchies and interrelationships between properties. Changes will be laborious to complete if they are not implemented dynamically. Therefore, using a custom-built prototyping software tool will work best.
- Pencil (free) – This is a basic Firefox plugin that allows you to build wireframes and prototypes. With only the most basic functions, this is not an ideal prototyping tool. However, it is worth the price!
- Balsamiq – This comes with a free trial and is more appropriate for the more discerning user.
Picture credit: Jack Dorsey