Adapting Your Web Design Skills For Print

It seems like these days more and more designers are trained to design for the web and work on two-dimensional projects only occasionally. Surprisingly, designing for the web and designing for print are very different.

And while there are a number of blog posts and articles around offering tips to print designers looking to move to the web, there’s not any information for web designers moving to print. And with more and more designers being trained in the digital arts, it can be a bit of a challenge when your boss asks you to mock up a poster or a business card. Do you know the fundamental differences between designing for the web and designing for print?

Here are a few considerations for adapting the skills you developed in your web design course to the page:

Control the viewer

People look at web and print in different ways. One of the biggest, most important differences is the way we interact with the design. On the web, the viewer uses their hands to control the experience by clicking and scrolling. On print, the image is usually presented as a whole and the viewer uses their eyes to follow the lines and shapes presented in the image. With print, the graphics control the viewer’s experience whereas with web the viewer is in control.

So what does this mean? Graphics on print need to be more assertive than web design when it comes to telling the viewer where to look. Don’t worry as much about the web design rules you learned about viewers’ expectations (eg. The logo goes in the top left), but pay close attention to the way the image flows and make sure you draw the eye to all the right places: your viewer will need to be guided.

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Forget the old constraints

When you design for the web, there are a number of variables that change the way you think about the page. Web design forces you to consider the different sized screens that your page will be viewed on, the different resolutions and the fear of overloading a page with heavy graphics. Print, on the other hand, has none of these constraints. Instead of constraints, print offers constants.

You’ll know that whatever you design is exactly what people will see. Design for tiny business cards or huge posters! Don’t worry about designing above the fold! Use unique and beautiful fonts that you know everyone will be able to see! Forget about loading times or browser compatibility! Isn’t that nice?

It can be hard to adjust to so much freedom with your designs, and it might be worth doing a few drafts, letting your imagination take you to the wildest places you can think of. It’ll be easier to rein it in than to make a constrained design seem freer.

Learn the new limitations

But graphic design isn’t all free and easy, there are a whole new set of limitations to learn.

First, you’re back to basics with only one medium. There will be no audio files or animations or interactive buttons. Your whole design has to work in a two-dimensional world. You also need to consider printing and material costs when you propose your final design. And don’t forget to incorporate bleed space (to compensate for irregularities in the cutting phase).

The only way to learn this lesson all the way through is to practice. Jump right into it and have fun with the new project. You’ll bump up against a number of unexpected frustrations, but it’s all part of the learning process.

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Written by CrazyLeaf Editorial

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