Since we are a commercial printing company, we run into plenty of design problems on a regular basis. For whatever reason, there seems to be an epidemic of designers completely unfamiliar with the print process from a technical as well as artistic standpoint. Perhaps their college courses never mentioned print media or maybe they were too afraid to admit their lack of experience to the client. Either way, we think it’s time for a refresher course on the difference between print and web design. Instead of sending us artwork you’re not sure about, take a minute to review the print design cheat sheet below:
Print Tech Specs Infographic
Print vs. Web Graphics
Good design transcends the medium, but there are some elements to keep in mind when you’re creating graphics for an inked environment. The infographic above includes common print dimensions; web design is far more flexible in terms of layout. Our eyes are accustomed to seeing a sidebar with a lot of flashing banners on the web. Print is static, so your layout should be free of clutter that will detract from the message. Digital graphics send messages, too, just not in the same way. There is a lot less competition for the audience’s attention on a printed page, which means you don’t have to go for a loud look. The flat design trend feels very print-inspired as the artwork avoids common web effects, such as blinding gloss and dramatic gradients.
Typography is always important, yet web designers tend to underestimate its impact on a printed page. Basically, typography is to print what CSS is to HTML. Can you build a website without CSS? Sure, there are a couple of outdated websites floating around with pure HTML. They’re not very aesthetically pleasing because there’s no real style in play. With print marketing, you don’t have to find the perfect font to drive your point across. And you can ignore the way text size, strokes, word placement, and italics interact to communicate emphasis. But this bare bones approach isn’t going to win you any awards for innovation. At the very least, you need to concentrate on readability.
Design Community Insight
Graphic designers, we know you have strong opinions on this subject. Let’s get some input from the professional artists in our community. How do you approach print projects vs. web work? What advice do you have for design graduates without a lot of print experience?