I was a print designer before I was a web designer. Most graphic designers believe that the internet is just another medium – they look at website and can appreciate the colour, layout and graphics of a good site. Therefore when a client briefs them to design a website, they don’t hesitate to take on the challenges of this exciting medium. Often using Photoshop.
I feel strongly that web design is far trickier than print. Most creatives appreciate that radio and TV are specialist areas. Like television, web has the third dimension of time and motion.
Most artists hope that this third dimension can be added later, during development. The result is a website that behaves like a linear PowerPoint presentation and graphics with the energy of a Duracell bunny.
But the web has a 4th dimension not found in any other medium – interactivity.
The internet is the first communication medium since the telephone where the audience can influence the message being communicated.
Web designers need to take into account greater functional requirements than any other communication medium. Websites are not only multidimensional but multi-spatial. By multi-spatial, I mean a web page needs to be designed and conceptualised to present data (including text and graphic data) dynamically in a way that responds to user interaction and to the device.
Many advertising agencies dismiss web design as a version of print. CYMK issues are a mere paint splatter in comparison to the bucket loads of canvas planning needed to design dynamic web pages. At least a print designer can expect to know the size, ink and paper stock of a magazine! He can define the fonts, exact colour and dimensions of his advertisement. Web designers must learn the idiosyncrasies of a dozen operating systems, browser versions, screen resolutions.
A contemporary web page is an evolving beast that is able to feed itself with multiple forms of data. Optimising download times are part and parcel of what makes a ‘good’ web design ‘great’.