This post originally appeared on my MSDN blog:
I no longer work for Microsoft, I have copied it here in case that blog
ever goes away.
When helping customers migrate their Internet sites to Microsoft Office SharePoint
Server (MOSS) 2007, I've found it very helpful to create wireframes showing the
various fields, Web Parts, and master page content. For the last several years,
I've been doing this in Microsoft Office Visio, but you could certainly achieve
similar results with other tools, such as Expression Design.
I start by taking a series of screenshots of the existing Web site using
Screengrab! (which makes it very easy to capture entire Web pages). For
example, here is a screenshot of a "Generic" page on the
Agilent Technologies - LSCA site that I captured a couple of years ago.
Figure 1: "Generic" page
I then paste the screenshot into Visio.
Next, I deemphasize the portions of the page rendered by the master page. To accomplish
this, add a rectangle with the text Header (Master Page) over the
top portion of the page. Then fill the rectangle with light gray (Shade 15%)
and set the transparency to 30%. Repeat similar steps for the footer
and other content provided by the master page.
The next step is to emphasize the various fields that we need to define in the corresponding
content type. In Figure 1, it is easy to discern that we have a Title
(i.e. "Glycomics Solution"), a Page Image (i.e. the circular image
on the right side of the page), and some arbitrary amount of Page Content
(i.e. the "stuff" in the middle). I also chose to provide a Subtitle
field for the bold text at the top of the page. Isolating the Subtitle
allows us to provide "semantic markup" and better control the formatting and layout
of this content.
To highlight these various fields, I create rectangles with corresponding text and
fill them with a very light red (Tint 35%) and again set the transparency
We now have a "wireframe" that shows the various portions of the page with just
enough visibility of the underlying content to understand what each portion refers
Figure 2: "Generic" page (Page Layout)
Here is another example, based on a press release.
Figure 3: Sample Press Release
Figure 4 shows the corresponding page layout.
Figure 4: Press Release (Page Layout)
Note the importance of choosing good sample pages when mocking up the wireframes
for page layouts. I chose the example press release above based on the fact that
it had "additional contact" information. In other words, all press releases have
primary contact information (which I chose to map to the out-of-the-box Contact
Name, Contact Phone, and Contact E-mail Address
fields), but only some press releases have additional contacts -- which
may consist of one more more individuals. Rather than attempting to create separate
fields for each individual's name, phone number, and e-mail address, we chose to
simply provide a single field for greater flexibility.
Some pages may be comprised of both fields and Web Parts. For example, consider
the following product detail page.
Figure 5: Sample product detail page
In this scenario, the "Buy Zone" and "Announcements" features are both implemented
as individual Web Parts (due to the dynamic nature of this content). Figure 6 shows
the corresponding page layout, highlighting the Web Parts in a different color.
Figure 7: Product Detail (Page Layout)
Wireframes like these are valuable when you are trying to define the various content
types and page layouts, as well as when it comes time to document your various feature
specs. So the next time you start a SharePoint project -- or any Web development
project for that matter -- I recommend creating a Screenshots library
right from the start and adding artifacts like these. I also keep a copy of the
Visio file (typically named Models - Page Layouts.vsd) so I can quickly make changes
as the content types and page layouts evolve over time.