Why web and print design are different

September 10, 2010

Common queries we get involve ‘Why do those columns not lineup together like on our leaflet’? Well this is because web and print design are very, very different.

With print design, what you see is what you get. You can position things and make precise layouts because nothing will change. Even when there are changes and amendments to later versions, you can redesign and make a new layout.

However with the web, a design has to have a certain degree of elasticity because things are constantly changing. Designs have to be malleable to support your clients content management system or ever-changing content. It isn’t cost-effective for client or web developer to constantly re-design each time there is new content or a new product so your web template has to be able to accommodate and adapt to new content.

Remember, print design doesn’t update or integrate new content automatically. It also doesn’t have animation and interactivity. These need to be considered in web design.

The two mediums are also digested very differently. Print is eye-led whereas web design works by the users leading with hand movements over the mouse (scrolling and clicking).

Lastly, the output of print is physical and in one format. Web design is seen on different monitors, different operating systems, different browsers, different screen resolutions and now increasingly different mobile devices. Web design will never look the same across all mediums, so we design to give as similar experience as possible.

Although the fundamentals for designing (layout, colour, structure) are the same for both, there are many different considerations for the two mediums. The next blurring of the lines will hopefully be the introduction of a wider variety of fonts for web but who knows what innovation lies around the corner.

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