I’ve worked with my share of graphic design firms over the years. It has been quite the roller coaster ride trying to get them to understand the differences between web design and print design. You need to recognize the distinct differences between graphic design and web design when building a web site. For this article graphic design should be considered the same as print design. Today I’m going to look at the differences between print and web design, Flash, and what to look for in a graphic designer.
So graphic designers don’t think I’m picking on them, I want acknowledge there are a few really talented graphic designers that understand and respect the differences between print and web. It’s my hope that their peers take notice.
Designer Centric Web Design
Many designers view graphic design and web design as one in the same. This is most prevalent with firms transitioning from print and multimedia design into web design. They think that web design and print design are siblings from the same family, like brother and sister. My belief is that they are analogous to second cousins. There are a few similarities, but significantly more differences. The challenge becomes getting old school graphic designers to separate from their roots.
I was once told by a graphic designer “You wouldn’t get it, you’re not an artist.” I think that graphic design can be considered analogous to special effects in a movie. The visuals can be amazing. Yet, if you don’t have a good story and dialogue it doesn’t matter how stunning the special effects. High quality pictures and multimedia will never trump high quality content.
The First Rise and Fall of Flash
This was evidenced a few years ago when everyone and their grandmother were hopping on the Flash bandwagon. People wanted all the bells and whistles for their web site. You’ll notice that trend quickly died out. Web site owners quickly realized that Flash wasn’t the most ideal method for delivering content. There are very few sites that deliver high quality content utilizing nothing but Flash. As a side note: Flash have become an excellent delivery method for web video.
A Constant Battle
Design firms usually endure a significant idea storm when creating web sites. In Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think, he does an excellent job of talking about the differences between the various team members developing a web site. Artists are going to view the project differently than developers. When you add management into the mix you get even more differences in opinion. All of these opinions and ideas need to balance with what’s best for the client and the user.
A Short and Simple Example
Take a look at Google and Yahoo. Together they account for approximately 150 Million searches daily. (Source: comScore Media Metrix) Users don’t go to these sites because of their graphic design prowess. They go to Google and Yahoo because the sites are easy to use and allow you access to an unbelievable amount of content.
Looking for a Graphic Designer?
If you are in the market for a graphic design make sure they can demonstrate their knowledge of the differences between print design and web design. Have them tell you about their web accomplishments in relation to client success. They understand that good design helps to support great content. Good web designers present their work in terms of striking a balance between aesthetics and information.
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