written by: Thomas P. Walton•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 3/10/2010
Turn complexities into coherent documents with the power of Visio. Design manuals, text/work books, websites, and flowcharts easily with Microsoft Visio.
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What is Visio's Purpose?
Visio is primarily a flowcharting application used in engineering, software development, business planning, financial strategies, and a number of other leading industries. What makes Visio so useful is that it can turn the complexities inherent in many of the concepts of engineering, business, and technology into comprehensive documentation.
Visio was designed to give its users the tools to integrate visual charts and diagrams with data across multiple sources. Diagrams can be linked to data sources across networks (particularly useful in a near paperless office, where multiple workstations need to access shared data on a network).
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The scope of Visio is not limited to creating flowcharts or diagrams. User Experience (UX) designers use Visio for conveying user goals, detailing navigation of web links on a web site, structuring web contents for user-friendly design, and generating user-interface mock-ups. Graphic designers sometimes use Visio for storyboarding. Desktop publishers working for an engineering company may be required to learn how to use Visio for any number of applications, including presentations, schematics, and flowcharts.
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Visio reduces the time it takes to create mock-ups and layouts with drag-and-drop shapes. Shapes are re-sizable, easily rotated, and can be grouped together with other shapes, photos, and text. The ability to move shapes, text, graphics, and other media anywhere on the page makes Visio an excellent application for designing complex work/text books and manuals.
The page layout menu makes it really easy to set up just about any paper size (from size A4 to plotter printouts).
Accessing the Shape drop-down menu allows the user to center the drawing (shapes, graphs, text, and photographs can be positioned perfectly on a page), align and distribute shapes evenly, and change the order of shapes (bring to front/ send to back).
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The desktop publisher can assign hyperlinks and behaviors to shapes in Visio. Desktop publishers can implement video files into a Visio document (For example: I designed a high-level [overview] flowchart for an engineering company’s global processes. I then linked several low-level [detailed] flowcharts with video links inside each process on the flowchart. This allowed for watching videos of the work being performed).
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Visio comes with some nice features for making maps and building plans. The user can easily create a map of an office or building (including icon based maps for general landmarks). Hyperlinks and behaviors (assigned to shapes) can be strategically positioned on a master document to connect other documents together. The result is a mapped network of documents linked to one another.
The user can utilize multimedia, document connectivity, and shape behaviors to create mockups for web and UX interfaces.
For more information on mapping with Visio, see my booklet on Amazon’s Kindle.