Web Design Vs. Print Design: A Review

Fifteen years ago, there were no web designers. The very first web designers in the early days of the web were “traditional” graphic designers that migrated their skills from print to the new media. So a lot of web design today is influenced by print design philosophies.

However, it’s easy to take from granted the differences between print and the web for the designer. Here are some of the key differences revisited:

  1. The Web is Dynamic – the key difference between the two media is that designing for the web means designing for content that will change based on the reader’s interaction. Printed content and design, obviously, will stay the same for eternity.
  2. Authoring is different – Making web pages can literally be done on notepad for the HTML, CSS, and Javascript stuff. But there are key tools available from image editors (Adobe Photoshop/Fireworks, Mic), editors (Adobe Dreamweaver), and even rich media (Flash) that give the web its interactivity. Print folks have Adobe InDesign, and even Microsoft Word. Also, designing for print operates better in a WYSIWYG environment.
  3. As far as standards go, the web has a long way to go – From the browsers, to the mark-up standards, and design standards the web is a mish-mash compared to print. If I ask you what the standard for rich media on the web, you’ll probably say “Flash,” but open web standards advocates will point to something else.

As web design matures and print media finds a way to arrest its steady decline, designers will probably dabble on the media more often. Appreciating the difference between the two media could probably go a long way.