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The Difference Between Web and Print

A lot of Web designers come to the Web already having a print background. Either they were print artists, or they are simply used to the control that a print world gives. When you print a project, it provides permanence and stability. That does not happen with Web.
The problem is, that it's really easy to overlook. When you build your Web page and have a trial run in your browser, you get it looking exactly how you like it to look. However, then you test it in a different browser, and it appears to be different. And if you move to a different OS, it will appear differently once more.
As you're a designer, you have to consider users. You will be doing them and yourself a disservice if you don't understand the how print and Web are different. Especially if you bring your portfolio as print outs. This is a common problem, where the customer expects the printout to represent exactly what the page will look like.
What To Do
Working with Customers
  • Printouts as a Portfolio It is always helpful to have a portfolio, but consider that the Web is different from print, and including a printed page is not a strong example of your Web site design talents.
  • Defining Goals Be up-front with your customers. If they want their site to have one certain layout, font, and other elements, be sure to explain the tradeoffs like download speed and editing before simply building them a completely graphical page.
  • Know what your client uses If you're a large Opera or Mac addict, and your customer only uses Internet Explorer for Windows, you have to keep this in mind in your creations. Your page could appear very different to them.
Design Tips
  • Study your audience Know the details of the users of the site you're designing. If they are geeks, they might run Unix on a 21 inch monitor. Or if they happen to be more old-fashioned they might own a 12 inch monitor working with Internet Explorer 3. If you design a site that works for your users, your clients won't come complaining to you later.
  • Run the tests Test your ideas in all the browser and OS combo that you can get your hands on. Emulators are fine if you have no other options, however there is no substitute for a life experience.
  • Remember about resolution Software and OS are significant, but if the readers and clients are working on a smaller screen than you use, they will be disappointed

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