Print and web design are two very similar, yet very different, concepts: Print design is concerned with the likes of logos, print adverts in magazines, and product design, whereas web design consists of design for flash and HTML websites, web banners, and emails templates. Some key things to consider when assessing if you still need print designs are: layout, technology and audience.
A concise layout is mandatory both online and in print, with both striving to achieve the same basic design elements (clear cut lines, good use of colours etc) to display content.
A print layout:
- Needs bleed lines so important parts of the print aren’t “chopped” off
- Is measured in inches
- Needs to have a consistent use of space, so the final result looks exactly the same everywhere
A web layout:
- Needs to be designed to be optimised across all different resolutions and sizes
- Is measured in pixels
- Also needs to be consistent, particularly when it comes to on-page navigation so it’s easy for users to use and stay on your site
Layout is also concerned with how a piece of content is viewed by other people: a physical print advert is very different from a digital on-screen advert, and this is something to bear in mind when it comes to your audience.
Colours also display differently, as print and web design operate in vastly different colour spheres. CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) is used for print as it’s understood by all printers, and RGB (Red Green Blue) tends to be used for web.
Both print and web designs require technology to bring them to life. Even print designs need to have been created in graphic design software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign. File types that are compatible for the web and print are: PNG, PDF, JPG/JPEG, EPS. In contrast, TIFF files are for print only, and SVG and GIF files are for the web only.
With this in mind, if you are integrating animation technology with your content by using GIFs and this is key to your brand, print design probably isn’t the best option for you.
Web designs also need to have their compatibility tested over different technological platforms and devices, such as various web browsers and operating systems, desktops, laptops, mobiles and tablets. For example, at present, older versions of Internet Explorer aren’t able to show SVGs, and Apple iOS can’t render Flash designs.
When embarking upon a project with a heavy design process, you need to consider the audience experience – as both print and web offer completely different experiences. Print designs tend to offer no user interaction whatsoever, whereas web pages do.
Print designs require your audience to sustain their attention for a longer period of time compared to the web in order to get a message across. As print layouts are constrained to the physical size of something, their usability is simply by turning a page, but they are limited in what messages they can deliver. A benefit of this is that print design can offer a physical sensory experience, with a combination of shapes and textures that web design cannot.
On a website, it is a lot more complicated, and having a good on-page navigation layout is key, otherwise it can result in a loss of visitors. You want to capture user attention for as long as possible, nudging them into wanting more. Good navigation alongside fun interactivity can achieve this.
So, what to choose? Learning how to implement both print and web design is extremely advantageous, and ultimately comes down to your design preferences, but print design is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.