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The Web is Not Print

A lot of Web designers come to the Web with a print background. Either they were print designers, or they are just used to the manage that a print world gives. When you print something, it provides permanence and stability. Things are different on the Web.
The problem is, that it's easy to overlook. When you create your Web site and test it in your browser, you produce it looking just the way you want it to look. However, then you test it in another browser, and it looks different. And when you move to another platform, it will look differently once more.
Being a designer, you'll need to consider customers. You will be doing them and yourself a disservice if you don't explain 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
  • Printed Pages as a Portfolio It is very important to create a portfolio, however, remember that the Web is not print, and including a printout is not a strong example of your Web site development talents.
  • Setting Expectations Be up-front with your customers. If they like their site to have very specific layout, font, and other elements, be sure to explain the tradeoffs like download speed and maintenance prior to simply building them a totally graphical page.
  • Find out what the customer uses If you're a large Firefox or Mac addict, and your client only works with IE for Windows, you have to keep this in mind in your project. Your site could appear very different to them.
Design Tips
  • Know your users Know the details of the audience of the site you're creating. If they are propeller-heads, they probably browse in Unix on a 21 inch screen. Or if they are more conservative they might own a 12 inch monitor working with Internet Explorer 3. If you design a page that suits your users, your customer won't come complaining to you later.
  • Don't forget to test Test your ideas in all the browser and OS combo that you manage to access. Emulators work if you don't have other choice, but you can't find a substitute for a life experience.
  • Remember about resolution Software and platforms are important, but if your users and customers are working on a smaller monitor than you use, they could be unpleasantly surprised

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