In the last ten or more years, web design has become one of the most prevalent design professions and skills in the world. It’s nearly impossible to be hired as a new graphic designer these days without having some sort of background in web design. Dare I say, the world will one day reach the point where print design is being influenced more by web design than the other way around.
Web design techniques are turning traditional print design on its head. This post discusses some of the most influential ways that web design is changing the graphic design industry. After reading, please let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts in the comments.
Motion and Interactivity
20 years ago or more, the most interaction with an advertisement or printed material that the user would have is to read or, at most, fill out a form to mail in. Now, designers have to consider not only aesthetics but also user experience. In fact, UX (user experience) has become a science and has opened up a whole new career pathway. UPDATE: Now with the addition of the iPad and other tablet devices, designers have to consider interactivity with a mouse versus fingertips. Do you think the iPad will change the way you design?
Seasoned graphic designers were trained with terms like leading and kerning. With the addition of web design to our skill set, we now identify the same principles with different names in the CSS: line-height and letter-spacing. They mean the same thing, but we must be able to speak the language from both directions. I believe the difference will one day be erased and graphic design will inherit terms like line-height and letter-spacing. What other soon-to-be-outdated terms can you add?
While this is getting better, there are still a limited number of fonts available for web designers. Tools like sIFR are making this problem more tolerable, but, generally speaking, typography is much more limited when working on the web than when working in print design.
In years past, a printed magazine used to have a unique layout on each page. Now, when designing for the web, we use the same layout on most of our pages. We have even created technologies like PHP which make it extremely easy to create a template web site or blog design. There are some exceptions like Jason Santamaria, a magazine-designer-turned-web-designer who creates a customized stylesheet for each blog post.
In the world of print design, an inch is an inch. While some would argue that on the internet, a pixel is a pixel but the problem comes when screen resolutions change. Web designers have to constantly deal with changes in technology. It’s not enough to design a web site any more–you now have to consider what the site will look like on large, high resolution screens, medium-size laptops, cell-phone screens, and more.
When printing, you can go to the printer’s and assure your design turns out just like you had intended. When designing for the web, you cannot be present every time a visitor opens your web page.
You also have to have the ability to design a piece as small as 16px by 16px (favicon size) or smaller. These minuscule sizes weren’t even dreamed of by print designers in years past.
Nearly unlimited resources
Getting a degree in graphic design is a great asset to any designer. When it comes to staying up to date on techniques, the web has nearly unlimited resources: articles, free images, tutorials, etc. Top designers now blog about their work and share with the rest of us–which helps us all improve together.
File sizes and loading times
If you posted a printed piece online, it would take forever to download. Graphic designers who strive to become web designers, therefore, have to learn good principles of optimization, file size, page-load times, etc. If a page doesn’t load quickly, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is, people won’t stick around to see it.
Here’s an obvious one. Once you design a page in photoshop your work isn’t even halfway finished. You then have to excercise your left brain and code the site to make it readable. Oh and on top of that, it should validate. It’s also possible you have to build a wordpress theme or use other technologies to give your client what they want.
What else would you add?
These are a few differences I have noticed the web design world has brought to the graphic design industry. What other differences have you noticed? Please share in the comments.Written by Preston D Lee Preston is the founder of GDB, a designer, programmer, marketer, and entrepreneur.