DENIM: Finding a Tighter Fit between Tools and Practice for Web Site Design

James Lin, Mark Newman, Yang Li1, and Marc Ringuette2
(Professor James A. Landay)

We conducted an ethnographic study [1] in which we observed and interviewed several professional web designers. This study showed that the process of designing a web site involves an iterative progression from less detailed to more detailed representations of the site. For example, designers often create site maps early in the process, which are high-level representations of a site in which each page or set of pages is depicted as a label. They then proceed to create storyboards of interaction sequences, which employ minimal page-level detail and focus instead on the navigational elements required to get from one page to another. Later still, designers create schematics and mock-ups, which are different representations of individual pages.

These were the primary observations that led to the design and implementation of DENIM [2], a system to assist web designers in the early stages of information, navigation, and interaction design. DENIM is an informal pen-based system that allows designers to quickly sketch web pages, create links among them, and interact with them in a run mode. The different ways of viewing a web site, from site map to storyboard to individual pages, are integrated through the use of zooming.

More information is available through the Group for User Interface Research web site at

Figure 1: The DENIM system

M. W. Newman and J. A. Landay, "Sitemaps, Storyboards, and Specifications: A Sketch of Web Site Design Practice," Designing Interactive Systems, New York, NY, August 2000.
J. Lin, M. W. Newman, J. I. Hong, and J. A. Landay, "DENIM: Finding a Tighter Fit between Tools and Practice for Web Site Design," CHI Letters: Human Factors in Computing Systems, The Hague, The Netherlands, April 2000.
1Postdoctoral Researcher

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