Held up as a trio of “must have” books for the Information Architect, Tufte’s books are the quintessential resource for information design. But many IAs may wonder how Tufte’s principles can be applied to their daily work. Dan Brown offers three lessons from Tufte.

Defining requirements and features can be a daunting task under the best of circumstances. The Vision Prototype allows the user-centered vision to be seen—and discussed—by all team members and then easily translated into a set of functional requirements.

PowerPoint: the software we love to hate. Has there been any other software since the dawn of the personal computer that has earned so much criticism? The question at hand is not, “Does PowerPoint suck?” The answer to that, as we all know, is yes. The question is, in fact, “For information architects, does PowerPoint suck?” Or, more to the point, “Even though PowerPoint sucks, should I use it for my deliverables?”

No column on information architecture deliverables would be complete without at least some mention of tools. Dan Brown offers three tips on using Visio, Microsoft’s diagramming application, that should make your life easier and more efficient.

A wireframe, as you probably know, describes the contents of a web page by illustrating a mock layout. Usually wireframes are rendered in some kind of drawing program, like Visio or Illustrator, but can also appear as bitmaps or even HTML. In his latest installment, Dan Brown, shows how the wireframe can transcend layout and work for all team members.

There are a lot of things that make deliverables good: coherence, context and relevance hardly constitute a comprehensive list. But by focusing on techniques that achieve coherence, context and relevance, information architects can address the challenges of starting a document, focusing the document and explaining its value.

In the first of a continuing series, Dan Brown will seek to elaborate on the preparation of deliverables, a crucial component in the maturation of Interactive Design. He will regularly explore the nuances of artifacts and share techniques that can help make your deliverables more valuable to other team members and clients.

By doing the demanding intellectual work first and then forcing the tools to succumb to need to produce seemingly speedy deliverables, you can get around the difficulty of choosing between “Good, Fast and Cheap.” Here’s one approach using Excel and Visio.

The way you communicate the personas and present your deliverables is key to ensuring consistency of vision. Without that consistency, you’ll spend far too much time arguing with your colleagues about who your users are rather than how to meet their needs.

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