Wireframes: Illustrator/Indesign question…

18 Aug 2008 - 6:34pm
6 years ago
2 replies
929 reads
mauropin
2007

Hi Meikel,

I'm not sure the InDesign+Illustrator is the best choice for your
wireframe documentation.

If you're using a PC, you should take a look at Axure -
http://www.axure.com. I have some friends who have been using it and
they seem very happy with it. I've never used it, as I haven't done
wireframes for a long time, and also because there is still no Mac
version of this software...so, I've never even tried it...But I have
close friends using it and loving it, many of them with an
"Illustrator background". :-)

As far as I know, Axure works in a much clever way, because it's
designed to create wireframes **and** also the documentation of the
wireframes, the description of elements and pages. You can create your
wireframes and describe them using the same tool, in a way that they
are linked in the same document, but you can view/print both
information isolated if you want to.

Also, you can create components that apply to different pages (like a
Master Page in InDesign). The software "knows" that it's a component
on a page, and that it's description does not need to be repeated on
each page. Once you summarize the descriptipn of a page, it only shows
what's unique on that page.

Axure also seems to be a very handy tool for quick prototyping. It
creates a 'website' from your wireframes. And it's easy to link
components, create alternative user-flows for some components. That's
something very useful to present the project to clients...they can see
the wireframes working, and that's something hard to do using static
wireframes, with some clients. ;-)

Illustrator is very good to design wireframes, but it's easy to get
lost trying to make the wireframe more "beautiful". As Axure is design
for creating wireframes, it has some 'ready to use' elements that make
it faster to work with. On the other hand, you have less options on
typography and other graphic design issues...that's a trade-off you
have to consider.

I guess if you want the presentation richness of InDesign, I mean, if
you need fine control of the layout and stuff like that, you should
keep it as your documentation tool. Axure's layouts for documentation
are really poor ("Microsoft Word" document type of layout, if you know
what I mean).

Anyway, if you still prefer to use Illustrator+Indesign, I think you
might consider creating different files in Illustrator instead of
using multiple layers and turning them visible/invisible. I know this
may be boring, because this way you end up with many files and
eventually you may have some inconsistence with global elements if you
change something in a document but not on the other that use the same
elements. But it will prevent the problem you described when you
update stuff linked in InDesign.

Maybe you could create different Illustrator files for global elements
and merge them together once you are in Indesign, so if you change an
element, you don't have to worry about changing every Illustrator
file. You can also do that using Master Pages in InDesign...

Let me know what would be your final solution. I'm curious about it. :-)

all the best,

--
prof. mauro pinheiro
universidade federal do espírito santo
centro de artes
depto. de desenho industrial

On Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 5:45 PM, Meikel Steiding
<msteiding at niksoftware.com> wrote:
> Hi everybody,
>
> I have a question regarding your Illustrator/Indesign wireframing workflow.
> In the upcoming months I am going to create a huge wireframe documentation.
> I am going to use InDesign CS3 to layout the whole document and Illustrator
> CS3 to create each wireframe graphic.
> After putting some thought into my internal file structure I decided that I
> want for each chapter a single Illustrator with the different graphics on
> each layer. This document will be embedded into the InDesign document. But
> today I discovered a rather annoying behavior:
> When I place an Illustrator file in my InDesign document and I am going to
> add a layer or rename a layer in Illustrator then InDesign needs to update
> the linkage and will loose all Information on which page which Illustrator
> layer should be visible. Instead all graphics will be the same. That is
> really annoying since it means that the Illustrator file needs to be
> finished before I can start with the InDesign work.
>
> So here is my question: How are you organizing your wireframes with an
> Illustrator Indesign workflow? Do you have for each graphic in Indesign one
> Illustrator file? That would make the whole updating process if something
> changes in a chapter quite work intensive.
>
> All the best
>
> me.
>
>
>
> Best regards! | Mit freundlichen Grüßen
> _______________________
> Meikel Steiding

Comments

19 Aug 2008 - 9:16pm
Charusmitha Ram
2008

Hi Meikel,
I use InDesign for my wireframes and I am really quite happy with it.
However, I do not use linked Illustrator files. I create all my assets in
InDesign and save them as library items. I have categorized all my assets
and grouped them into 6 libraries which also include certain screen types. I
love using libraries because the assets are labeled and organized well. I
can also see thumbnails of my assets which I can drag and drop onto my
InDesign document as i'm working. If I make any change to my asset, I can
update the library item with the new changes.
A few limitations of using this method are:
1) If you are working as a team and using the libraries as common assets,
you have to notify other team members to update the library with the changes
made. An InDesign library (.indl) cannot be updated via Version Cue server.
2) The updated asset in the library will not automatically update the asset
previously used in the current document or older documents. So, the updated
asset can only be applied for future use.

Again, this method is only for very rough wireframing and not for
hi-fidelity. However, the wireframes come out very clean and consistent.
When using for presentations, just hide the annotations and call outs (which
you place on a layer) when publishing the PDF. An InDesign document can be
re-purposed for a number of things and is flexible in many ways. I've also
heard that it can also be published as HTML.
Hope this is useful.

-Smitha Ram
Senior Interaction Designer
Thomson Reuters | www.thomsonreuters.com
----------------------------------------------------------

20 Aug 2008 - 7:53am
Ron Edelen
2008

There is a great discussion on Fi's blog about wireframing. A good
explanation and comments loaded with resources/examples to build
libraries.

Christoph posted -- "If it helps you to get started, Yahoo has
released the stencils they use internally for IA, just google 'yahoo
visio stencils'. They are available for Visio, Omnigraffle and other
formats. They are a little bit too graphical and html-oriented for our
purposes but still a very complete set."

http://www.thinkswedish.com/blog/#ContentHolder:feed=blog&Entries:
0=entry+1=973

:) Ron

On Aug 19, 2008, at 10:16 PM, Charusmitha Ram wrote:

> Hi Meikel,
> I use InDesign for my wireframes and I am really quite happy with it.
> However, I do not use linked Illustrator files. I create all my
> assets in
> InDesign and save them as library items. I have categorized all my
> assets
> and grouped them into 6 libraries which also include certain screen
> types. I
> love using libraries because the assets are labeled and organized
> well. I
> can also see thumbnails of my assets which I can drag and drop onto my
> InDesign document as i'm working. If I make any change to my asset,
> I can
> update the library item with the new changes.
> A few limitations of using this method are:
> 1) If you are working as a team and using the libraries as common
> assets,
> you have to notify other team members to update the library with the
> changes
> made. An InDesign library (.indl) cannot be updated via Version Cue
> server.
> 2) The updated asset in the library will not automatically update
> the asset
> previously used in the current document or older documents. So, the
> updated
> asset can only be applied for future use.
>
> Again, this method is only for very rough wireframing and not for
> hi-fidelity. However, the wireframes come out very clean and
> consistent.
> When using for presentations, just hide the annotations and call
> outs (which
> you place on a layer) when publishing the PDF. An InDesign document
> can be
> re-purposed for a number of things and is flexible in many ways.
> I've also
> heard that it can also be published as HTML.
> Hope this is useful.
>
> -Smitha Ram
> Senior Interaction Designer
> Thomson Reuters | www.thomsonreuters.com
> ----------------------------------------------------------
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