I don’t even want to get into how long it took me to realize what a wireframe was. Suffice to say that I did indeed figure it out in time to do the assignment, which was find examples of three different types of navigational layouts and then create a wireframe of one of them.
For anyone who is ignorant like me, a wireframe is a sketch of a website’s layout. Wireframe is a specialized technical word for web design, which sends me down another trip down memory lane back to undergrad linguistics. Specialized technical language helps create communities of expertise and helps people in the same field identify one another and keep non-experts at arms’ length.*
At any rate, I chose a couple of faves: Smitten Kitchen for vertical and Knitty for horizontal. What really struck me was that many websites now have multiple ways of navigation. Which can be useful as it offers the user multiple ways of exploring the site; however, having too many choices can be confusing and ultimately as frustrating as having too few. One more for keep it simple.
In terms of finding an experimental navigational website, I had to turn to my old friend Google because all of my favourite websites are pretty standard navigation.
I then used Gliffy to create a very, very basic wireframe of Smitten Kitchen that I will not add here; suffice to say that I would much rather have the logo guru’s little Moleskin journal to sketch in. And also it’s kind of interesting that you always have to start from a sketch. No one can just produce something fully formed without a rough draft (bar Zeus/Athena). No matter how well-developed it may be in the mind’s eye, there are always multiple attempts and do-overs before it’s just right.
*My definition may be somewhat coloured by my experience of the sociolinguistics class, which may or may not have involved dozing off in the back row/gossiping with a friend.