The Exploration Phase

The Exploration Phase

During the Exploration phase you will generate and explore several designs. These initial designs often do not reflect ideas about color, imagery, and typography. However, they do reflect ideas about site structure and navigation. By the end of Exploration, you will have several prototypes to present to the client, who will select one for further development and sign off on the work done. Sometimes a client will want to fund continued development of two sites for further refinement before making a final choice. In either case, the selected design is supported by evaluation results that show it is the best at meeting the business, client, and customer goals.

Typically you will generate medium-fidelity site maps, storyboards, and schematics (see Chapter 4—Involving Customers with Iterative Design for details about medium-fidelity prototypes, and about the differences among site maps, storyboards, and schematics). Test all your designs quickly with target customers to ensure usefulness and usability.

More design patterns come into play here too. The HOMEPAGE PORTAL (C1) pattern describes some of the ways to structure your homepage, as well as what you'll want on your homepage, such as a PRIVACY POLICY (E4) and a STRAIGHTFORWARD SEARCH FORM (J2).

Begin initial work on the information architecture—the overall organization of the Web site's content—at this phase as well. The BROWSABLE CONTENT (B2) pattern has more details on how to design and implement your architecture.


Medium-Fidelity Site Maps, Storyboards, and Schematics

You will present several sets of medium-fidelity site maps, storyboards, and schematics to your client. Each set represents a design alternative that addresses the issues described by the customer analysis document, the business analysis document, and the specification document. In particular, the storyboards will show the initial ideas for how the scenarios in the specification document will be carried out. However, at this phase none of the deliverables will have much detail; rather they will have just enough detail to represent the general idea. See Figure for an example of a medium-fidelity site map.

3. Medium-fidelity site maps such as this one can quickly communicate the flow of a site in an easy-to-read format.


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