Ten Things to Remind your Print Designer


Still wishing...

I should have called this “Ten ways to make your web designer pull their hair out“. This is a sister post to my Ten Things Web Designers Forget.

I have a lot of respect for people that have made the jump from the traditional arena of print design and can now honestly work in the area web design. However this is a reminder to the rest of the traditional print industry that is pretending to be web designers. Stop it! You are giving designers generally a bad name.

So let’s start with a few basics you are just not getting:

  1. The screen is not paper

    A screen is not same dimensions as a page (A4, A3 or otherwise). For a starter screen dimensions come in different sizes, and they are measured in pixels. These range from 320 x 480 px to 1920 x 1200 px and beyond (excluding mobile phones). Browsers also change in size and screen renderable area as well as being windows that can be resized at will by the user.

  2. We don’t have your fonts

    From a web design view point I wish we had hundreds of fonts to play with. Sure we can design with what we like, but the reality is there are a limited number of shareable fonts that most browsers support. Hence unless a technique like sIFR is employed the fancy font that you want will have to rendered as an image.

  3. Colour on a screen is not prefect

    This area is getting better with the advent of high quality LCD screens into the marketplace, but you still have to consider that the colour that you see on your mockup will vary in its presentation on different monitors and computers. This is due to lack of colour calibration, quality of components, software drivers and the environment. This not the fault of the web designer. Yes light brown can render as pink or light blue, get over it.

  4. Font sizes should change

    Like it or not if a web site has been correctly designed the font sizes will be scalable by the user. This is going to destroy any precise layout, as elements can change position as the font size goes up and down. Howver it does allow people with eyesight problems to read the page without a magnifying glass.

  5. The grid can be dynamic

    Traditionally when you design for print the page is a fixed given size and grid, well on the web you can have a page any depth, being rendered on a mobile phone screen to giant 30 inch monitors at a high resolution. Your will often build a site so it will scale or be fluid and fill the page as required. You don’t have to restrict the page depth to one page, people have been proven to scroll down a deep page to get to the content they want.

  6. Splash pages are waste of time

    I understand why people want to do this. To have a front page like a cover of a book that allows people to pause and reflect on the beauty of the design. But that will only work the first time, the second and subsequent times this splash page will just be annoying, even move so if it’s flash animation Really do you want to annoy the users of a web site every time they visit it. Better not to have a splash page, also it’s going to not help google and other search engines indexing the site.

  7. The Web is not print

    Just because you can use a program like Dreamweaver and drag and drop elements onto a page does not make you a web designer. Are you taking into account usability, accessibility, the semantic markup, W3C guidelines, information architecture, allowance for search engines, progressive enhancement, unobtrusive javascript. Sure some of the design basics are the same, but that is where it ends. The web is still a very technical design medium and I have not even touched on the different browsers and variations in page rendering they produce. In a way print is easy, it’s one medium. Web on the other hand is an insane medium to design in.

  8. Don’t down sample or flatten files

    Like it or not a web designer does know how to use Photoshop in most cases and can resize and down sample images for themselves. Often as a designer you may will find an aspect of a picture interested, but because the image has been down sampled and reduced in physical size you are not able to use this element effectively in your design. The same thing happens in web design. A bit of respect for your fellow web designer goes a long way.

  9. Pixels, ems are not points

    For the most part a web designer measures the web in pixels (px) or em. Pixels are a fixed unit of measurement, where ems are dynamic one and will scale as required. There are no use of points for screen based design. A good web designer will however use points for their designs for the print out styles of pages.

  10. Print content is not web content

    As my fellow colleague James Bull will tell you till he is blue in the face: content written for print does not directly translate onto the web. Sure you can use the web as a repository for print documents and the like. But for general web pages the content needs to be purpose written to take into account that people don’t even view or read it the same way as a print medium. Then there is the field of ambient findability that is another aspect of web content that separates it from print.

I know there are more, I can think of at least another four to five. I didn’t even consider bad markup or oversized files. So do have anymore to add to the list?

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