Visio Stencils for Information Architects
Apr 7th, 2005
The Visio stencils on this page are free for downloading and using. They are designed to aid the work of Information Architects. In short, they are not for everyone, you may want to familiarize yourself with common IA practices before trying to use these stencils.
While they are free to download and use, I would ask you not to re-sell or distribute the stencils yourself as I will be updating the stencils here on this site from time to time and I want to make sure the copy everyone goes to download is the most current version. If you would like to help me convert them to the latest version of Visio please let me know.
The following Visio Stencils were created in and specifically for use with Microsoft Office Visio Professional 2003. If you try to load them in an older version of Visio you will get the message “This file cannot be opened because it was created with a newer or unrecognized version of Visio” and you will not be able to use the stencil.
A Note About Definitions
Below I have added some notes that, to me, summarize the three types of deliverables these three stencils are used for. These are by no means official definitions nor should the information here be used as a rule for what should and shouldn’t be included in each deliverable. Every information architect I have met has their own style and level of detail they like to use in each deliverable they produce, these are simply tools to help aid you in the creation of these deliverables. So please feel free to expand on how they can be used and come up with your own variations of deliverables based on what you feel is needed.
Download: Wireframe Stencil (64 KB .zip)
Wireframes (sometimes referred to as schematics, page architecture, or blueprints) are diagrams of either pages or templates for a web site, web application, or system. These are typically constructed of boxes representing areas or regions, text representing content, crossed out boxes representing possible image placement, and navigational features such as tabs, navigation bars, or links. In greater detail wireframes may be more abstract by only communicating what needs to go on a page and what priority it should have, or they may be more detailed showing exactly what content, images, and functionality need to exist on a specific page. Some wireframes may also be just templates that show how various web parts or modules will be incorporated into the page (these kinds of wireframes are sometimes referred to as wireframe templates, or zone diagrams).
Download: Sitemap Stencil (41 KB .zip)
A Sitemap (in the since of a IA Deliverable) is a digram or flow chart that maps out the architecture or structure of a web site, web application, or system. These are typically constructed of boxes which represent pages and lines which connect the boxes that represent which pages can be accessed (hierarchically) from a given page. Arrows are often used to communicate one-way or two-way access between pages. In greater depth sometimes there are legends specifying different types of pages (i.e. internal, external, instances, etc). In some cases a site map will also have a keypath for revenue drivers or user tasks, this is often done by applying a note to each page in that path or click-through. Lastly, each page has a area where an ID or number can be specified, this is to associate pages to wireframes or wireframe templates.
Process Flow Stencil
Download: Process Flow Stencil (17 KB .zip)
Process Flows (sometimes referred to as User Flows, Visual Vocabulary, Task Analysis, or Process Maps) are simply flow charts or diagrams used to explain and define a process within a web site, a web application, software, or system. These are typically constructed of boxes representing screens or actions, diamonds representing decision points and branches in the process, users representing the individual users. In some cases there are also cylinders which represent databases or information sources, clouds or regions which represent groupings.
- Visio Stencils
- Garrett Dimon’s Templates & Stencils for Visio (free)
- Jesse James Garret’s "visual vocabulary" (free)
- Henrik Olsen’s Visio prototyping tool (3rd edition) (free)
- Michael Angeles’s Visio Wireframe Stencil (free)
- Peter Van Dijck’s Templates (free)
- Omnigraffle Palettes
- Garrett Dimon’s Templates & Stencils for Omnigraffle (free)
- Michael Angeles’s OmniGraffle Wireframe Stencils (free)
- Michael Angeles’s OmniGraffle Sketch Stencils ($10.00)
- Paper Plane’s IA Stencils for OmniGraffle (free)
- Jason Sutter’s Free Web Wireframe Stencil for Omnigraffle (free)
- Theresa Neil’s iPhone Wire Frames (free)
About the author
Nick Finck is a user experience professional who has dabbled in the web for over a decade. He specializes in information architecture, interaction design, usability and user research. Read more