DENIM: An Informal Web Site Design Tool Inspired by Observations of Practice
Mark Newman, James Lin, Jason Hong, and James Landay
Through a study of web site design practice, we observed that designers employ multiple representations of web sites as they progress through the design process and that these representations allow them to focus on different aspects of the design. In particular, we observed that web site designers focus their design efforts at three different levels of granularity—site map, storyboard, and individual page—and that designers sketch at all levels during the early stages of design. Sketching on paper is especially important during the early phases of a project, when designers wish to explore many design possibilities quickly without focusing on low-level details. Existing web design tools do not support such exploration tasks well, nor do they adequately integrate multiple site representations. Informed by these observations we developed DENIM: an informal web site design tool that supports early phase information and navigation design of web sites. It supports sketching input, allows design at different levels of granularity, and unifies the levels through zooming. Designers are able to interact with their sketched designs as if in a web browser, thus allowing rapid creation and exploration of interactive prototypes. Based on an evaluation with professional designers as well as usage feedback from users who have downloaded DENIM from the Internet, we have made numerous improvements to the system and have received many positive reactions from designers who would like to use a system like DENIM in their work.