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7 Guidelines to designing for print and web

Guest blogger Mary Gualtieri

As I continue to develop my career in the web industry, I have found my journey has taken me to Ritter’s Communications. I have been a here for a few months and while my proficiency in all things web has been an added asset here, I’ve needed a learning curve when it comes to the print aspect of design. I’ve learned seven guidelines on how I should approach my design work in both print and web.

  • Think About How You Approach Your User.

The biggest difference between a print design and a web design is how the user views them. A printed design piece is not going to look the same as a web design piece. A designer really has to think about the where and how things are designed to cater to the user.

  • How Does Your Design Engage the User?

Print and web design share a visual quality – the design needs to make a good impression on the user no matter what. However, print and web designs have a different approach. The visual component for print design needs to have a tangible experience. In other words, a print design needs to consider how texture, shape, or printing can affect the printing process but still create that visual impact needed to engage the user. On the other hand, web design can add elements such as audio or video elements to enhance the user experience and make it more dynamic.

  • The Design Lifecycle: Static vs. Interactive Design

When a design goes to the printer, it won’t change and therefore the lifecycle of it has concluded. However, web design can go through constant iterations of itself. This means that web designers are constantly considering the ongoing functionality of a project and the design lifecycle of a design can last longer.

  • Make Your Designs User-Friendly.

Usability for print design is dependent on the physical size and shape of the actual art piece. Therefore, the usability is directed towards how the user flips, folds, or unfolds the printed piece. When it comes to web design, users can encounter different layouts and finding information can be difficult. Having a methodical navigation or menu bar can really enhance the usability of a website.

  • Layouts

The great thing about both print and web design is that they share a lot of commonalities: typography, images or graphics, shapes, lines, etc. However, how you approach a layout will differ from print and web designs. For instance, not all typography is web based. This means that when choosing a font, you have to consider if it translates in both web and print designs.

  • Color: CMYK vs. RGB

Color displays differently on paper and on a screen. But how do we do we keep it consistent? Simple: the Pantone Matching System. The Pantone Matching System can help determine equivalent colors because Pantone colors have their own reference numbers that are associated with CMYK and RGB.

CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Designers will identify the color they want to use based off the codes that will give the percentage of each type of ink that is required to form that color. Take Facebook’s logo as an example. If you wanted to use Facebook blue, you would use 61% cyan, 41% magenta, 0% yellow, and 40% black.

 

RGB – red, green, blue. RGB refers to the colors that you see on a screen. There are tiny dots consisting of red, green, blue on any type of screen to create that image that you see. RGB colors can be tricky because display screens can vary. RGB is also represented through a set of three numbers. If we were to look at the Facebook logo again and we wanted to use their blue, the RGB color would be 20% Red, 30% Green, and 51% Blue.

 

  • File formats – Which format is the correct format?

If you have ever created some type of graphic for print or web use, you’ll notice that you have A LOT of options. Here is a list of file formats that are ok for both print and web use.

  • JPG/JPEG: JPG’s are saved in both CMYK and RGB, and also in the correct resolution.
  • PDF: commonly used for preserving original content.
  • EPS: commonly used for vector graphics and preserving their scalability.
  • PNG: used to preserve opacity or transparency.

 

So, what have I learned so far at being Ritter’s Communications? I’ve learned that print and web design are both essential tools in effective marketing. However, the approach of web and print designs greatly differ from one another.

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