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The Web is Not Print

A lot of Web design artists come to the Web already having a print experience. Either they were print artists, or they are simply used to the control that a print world gives. When you print something, it provides permanence and stability. Things are different on the Web.
The thing is, that it's really easy to forget. While you create your Web page and test it in your browser, you produce it looking exactly the way you like it to look. But then you test it in a different browser, and it looks different. And when you move to another OS, it will appear differently again.
As you're a designer, you have to consider customers. You will be doing them and yourself a disservice if you don't get the difference between print and the Web. 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
  • Printed Pages as a Portfolio It is very important to create a portfolio, however, consider that the Web is different from print, and bringing a printout is not a strong representation of your Web site design talents.
  • Defining Expectations Be honest with your clients. If they like their page to have very certain layout, font, and images, make sure you explain the tradeoffs like download speed and editing before simply making them a completely graphical page.
  • Find out what your client uses If happen to be a big Opera or Mac addict, and your client only works with IE for Windows, you should remember in your creations. Your site could look dramatically different to them.
Design Techniques
  • Know your users Get familiar with the details of the users of the page you're creating. If they are geeks, they might browse in Unix on a 21 inch screen. Or if they happen to be more old-fashioned they might have a 12 inch monitor running Internet Explorer 3. If you design a page that works for your users, your customer won't be complaining to you later.
  • Run the tests Test your designs in all the browser and OS combo that you can get your hands on. Emulators work if you have no other choice, however there is no replacement for hands on experience.
  • Remember about resolution Browsers and platforms are significant, but if your users and customers are browsing on a smaller screen than you use, they will be unpleasantly surprised

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