Print Design vs. Web Design: A designer’s perspective

I love print advertising. Love. It. A fun fact, print advertising was the pivotal thing that made me decide I wanted to go into advertising at the age of 13. Everything I did after that realization geared me toward advertising design.

I often try to describe to people outside of the industry why I have this crazy passion, only to get funny faces that say, “You’re a dork.” I love the entertainment value of print, the creativity and personality, and everything down to the technical aspect of it. The control freak in me gets excited about choosing the paper and comparing Pantone swatches to get the colors just right. The most gratifying part of print is that the user experience is the same across the board. My vision is the same for every viewer. They see it exactly as I intended it.

Recently, I’ve been given the great opportunity to move into web design at work. I have a great respect for web design — it’s like a series of challenges that need to be overcome. When you’ve defeated browser compliance issues, code conundrums and various opportunities for user error, you get a sense of accomplishment. But, for a former print designer who gets excited over paper samples like a preteen on MTV’s “Total Request Live,” that sense of accomplishment just isn’t the same. The reason? Browsers display your design code differently. Screen colors are rarely ever the same from computer to computer. The user can mess with your fonts and your element sizing. My vision can’t be shared exactly the way I want it to be. This frustrates me.

Web design is becoming increasingly important in our industry, so I can’t shirk it. And at the end of the day, I still get joy out of designing for the web. I apply print design concepts to all of my designs for the world wide web. I take care to use a grid system, compare color swatches, and try out different (though more generic) fonts to create as similar an experience as possible from user to user. Plus, I’m finding more commonly print and web must go hand-in-hand. One can’t be successful without the other.

Through all this, I’ve found another thing to love about a career in advertising: collaborating with the print designers to create a comprehensive voice for our clients.

I think I found my passion for web after all.


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