What can web designers learn from print publications?

Added 04.04.11

As anyone who's worked across both print and web design would know, each medium comes with its own set of challenges. The strengths and weaknesses of web design and print publication design are probably equal in number. For example changing a small typo, which is no big deal on a website, can equal a financial disaster if it's only noticed once thousands of brochures or magazines are printed. By the same token – have you ever heard of a print magazine being hacked? It's completely impossible. However, although very different mediums in many ways, perhaps they should not be thought of as so separate as they often are. To explore this idea, let's take a look at some of the tips web designers can pick up from print designers.

One of the important things that web designers can learn from print designers is the use of design to evoke a unique brand identity for their clients. Many web designers save a great deal of time by developing icons, buttons, colour schemes and web features that are almost identical to all the other websites they have designed, or indeed all other websites everywhere. This is not a shortcut available to print designers, who tend to be forced to create an individual brand identity or produce a unique take on an existing brand. Website designers should concentrate on individuality in their web design to ensure that each website precisely represents the ethos of the company in a personal and exciting way through the thoughtful use of logo development, colours and fonts, and through the very structure and functionalities of the website.

Another aspect of print design that web designers can learn from is the economical selection of content. Most print publications are limited in their inclusion of content due to a set number of pages, whereas a web page can be expanded to an unlimited number of URLs, each containing an unlimited amount of text and images. Web designers can learn from the restraint of print designers who avoid in-depth instructions in favour of quick, concise bites of information which are actually far more ideal for the browsing style of internet users.

Finally, print design tends to concentrate on the use of high quality photography as a centrepiece to the page which is something web designers could also adapt to a greater extent. Photographs can be a wonderful source of inspiration for web designers when used as the main design element, even aiding them to select the entire colour scheme for a website or page.