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The Web is Not Print

A lot of Web design artists come to the Web already having a print experience. They were either print designers, or they are simply used to the control that a print world gives. At the time print a project, it turns out to be permanent and stable. That does not happen with Web.
The problem is, that it's really easy to overlook. While you build your Web page and test it in your browser, you produce it looking just how you like it to look. However, then you test it in another browser, and it looks different. And if you switch to a different platform, it will look differently once more.
As you're a designer, you'll need to consider customers. You will not be doing them and yourself a favor 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 always important to create a portfolio, but consider that the Web is different from print, and including a printout is not a good example of your Web site development talents.
  • Setting Goals Be up-front with your clients. If they want their site to have very specific layout, font, and other elements, make sure you explain the tradeoffs like download speed and maintenance before simply making them a totally graphical page.
  • Know what the client uses If you're a large Opera or Mac addict, and your client only uses Internet Explorer for Windows, you have to keep this in mind in your project. Your page could look dramatically different to them.
Design Tips
  • Know your users Know the characteristics of the users of the site you're designing. If they are geeks, they probably run Unix on a 21 inch monitor. Or if they happen to be more conservative they might own a 12 inch monitor running Internet Explorer 3. If you design a site that works for your audience, your clients won't be complaining to you later.
  • Run the tests Test your designs in every browser and OS combination that you can get your hands on. Emulators work if you don't have other options, however you can't find a replacement for hands on experience.
  • Remember about resolution Browsers and platforms are important, but if the readers and customers are working on a smaller monitor than you design on, they will be unpleasantly surprised

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